Asia

Japan emperor to meet abandoned Vietnam families of soldiers

  • Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend a wreath laying ceremony at the mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

    Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko attend a wreath laying ceremony at the mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Japan's Emperor Akihito walks with Empress Michiko during a wreath laying ceremony at the mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

    Japan's Emperor Akihito walks with Empress Michiko during a wreath laying ceremony at the mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Japan's Emperor Akihito, center, and Empress Michiko, right, are shown the way during a wreath laying ceremony at the mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)

    Japan's Emperor Akihito, center, and Empress Michiko, right, are shown the way during a wreath laying ceremony at the mausoleum of the late Vietnamese President Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, Wednesday, March 1, 2017. (Luong Thai Linh/Pool Photo via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Japan's emperor and empress, on a landmark visit to Vietnam, are expected to express their sympathies when they meet with Vietnamese women abandoned by their Japanese soldier husbands after World War II.

Hatsuhisa Takashima, Emperor Akihito's press secretary, says 16 surviving wives and their children were invited to meet with the emperor and empress on Thursday.

Some 600 to 800 Japanese soldiers remained in Vietnam and trained Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh to fight the French forces after Japan surrendered to the allies in 1945. But many of the soldiers were forced to return to Japan, leaving behind their Vietnamese wives and children.

Many of the Vietnamese families faced economic hardship and discrimination after the husbands left.