Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako offered flowers Tuesday at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery, which honors those who fought for Indonesia's independence, during their visit to the country.

Among those buried at the cemetery in Jakarta are 28 former Japanese soldiers who remained in Indonesia after the end of the Japanese occupation and joined the fight for independence from the Dutch Empire.

The offering came a day after the emperor and the empress met with four descendants of some of the former Japanese soldiers who remained in the country.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito (far L) and Empress Masako (2nd from L) offer flowers at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta on June 20, 2023. (Pool photo)(Kyodo)

Second-generation Japanese Heru Santoso Eto, 63, who acts as chairman for Yayasan Warga Persahabatan, an organization made up of descendants, expressed gratitude at the meeting. His father died in 2003 at the age of 84 and is buried in Kalibata.

According to the YWP, around 1,000 Japanese soldiers remained to fight for Indonesia's independence, of which half died or went missing. Japan branded them deserters, but Indonesia awarded them Indonesian nationality and medals for their services in 1965.

Yoga Kusuma Barata, 24, said his great-grandfather Kaneo Ueda decided to remain in Indonesia because he fell in love with an Indonesian woman, whom he later married, and "he had a new responsibility."

"The responsibility defeated his longing for his homeland, Japan," Yoga told Kyodo News in a recent interview, saying it was part of the Bushido samurai principles practiced by his great-grandfather.

"Because of this, he is my role model until now," Yoga added.

Indonesia, a former Dutch colony, was occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army for around three and a half years during World War II. The nation declared independence in 1945 after Japan surrendered in the war and then fought against the Dutch until 1949.

"It is important to remember those who lost their lives, deepen an understanding of past history and cultivate love for peace," the emperor said during a press conference ahead of his visit.

The visit is the second overseas trip for the emperor and the empress since his ascension, their first being to attend the funeral of Britain's Queen Elizabeth. The couple received an invitation from the Indonesian president in July last year.

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