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Japan crown prince says royal visits key to friendly ties

TOKYO — Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito says he will take to heart how his father was mindful of Japan’s history with other nations and tried to build closer ties during his upcoming visit to France, expected to be his last foreign trip before becoming emperor.

Naruhito told reporters Wednesday that foreign visits, including his Sept. 7-15 trip to France, are a key role for the royal family in fostering friendship.

Naruhito will join cultural events and visit schools during the trip, which marks 160 years of Japan-France diplomacy.

Naruhito’s 84-year-old father, Akihito, will abdicate on April 30, handing the Chrysanthemum throne to his son the next day.

Akihito is seen as having devoted his life to make amends to victims of World War II, which was fought in his father Hirohito’s name.