Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako are scheduled to attend art and cultural events in Okinawa next month, their first visit to the prefecture since his enthronement in 2019 and the 50th anniversary in May of Okinawa's return to Japan from postwar U.S. administration, the Imperial Household Agency said Thursday.

The imperial couple will attend the opening ceremonies of art and cultural festivals during their two-day visit to the southern island prefecture from Oct. 22. But the empress, who has long been battling a stress-induced illness, may not travel depending on her condition, according to the agency.

When a ceremony marking Okinawa's reversion was held, the two attended virtually from Tokyo as part of steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The emperor at the time expressed his sympathy for the people of Okinawa because of the hardships they suffered during World War II and the difficulties they continue to face.

"I hope a broader section of Japanese, including the younger generation, will further deepen their understanding of Okinawa," the emperor said during the ceremony.

The emperor has visited Okinawa five times, first in 1987 and last in 2010, before he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne more than three years ago. The empress visited the prefecture with him in 1997.

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