Japan's Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako visited Indonesia on Saturday for their first official goodwill visit since the emperor's ascension to the throne in 2019.

Their stay through Friday includes a luncheon with President Joko Widodo and a visit to a cemetery honoring Indonesian independence fighters.

The visit is the second overseas trip for the emperor and 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.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the suburbs of Jakarta on June 17, 2023, kicking off their weeklong official visit to Indonesia. (Pool photo) (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

It comes as Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, chaired this year by Indonesia, mark their 50th anniversary of friendly ties.

At a hotel in Jakarta, the couple was welcomed by children attending local Japanese schools and chatted with some of them.

Ahead of the trip, the emperor expressed hope that his visit will "further deepen" the countries' relationship, which he said went through a "difficult period," a reference to Japan's occupation of Indonesia during World War II.

"It is important to remember those who lost their lives, deepen an understanding of past history and cultivate love for peace," he told a press conference Thursday in Tokyo.

The emperor said he hopes the visit will spur greater engagement among young Indonesians and Japanese, mentioning that he and his wife looked forward to learning more about the country.

Japanese Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako speak to children at a hotel in Jakarta on June 17, 2023, after their arrival in Indonesia for a weeklong official visit. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

The emperor said his wife, who has long battled a stress-induced illness, will not join every event with him due to her health.

The emperor and the empress are slated to meet the president and his wife on Monday and have a luncheon at the palace in Bogor, near Jakarta.

They are expected to offer flowers the following day at the Kalibata Heroes' Cemetery, which honors those who fought for Indonesia's independence.

Among the buried are former Japanese soldiers who stayed in Indonesia after the end of Japanese occupation and joined the fight for independence from the Dutch Empire.

Pictures of Japanese Emperor Naruhito (2nd from L) and Empress Masako (L) along with Indonesian President Joko Widodo (2nd from R) are seen on a board set up at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the suburbs of Jakarta on June 17, 2023. The Japanese imperial couple arrived at the airport the same day, kicking off their weeklong official visit to Indonesia. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

From Wednesday, the emperor is scheduled to travel alone to Yogyakarta, an ancient city in central Java, to attend a dinner hosted by the provincial governor.

The agenda also includes visits to a high-speed railway constructed with Japan's economic assistance and a university engaging in Japanese-language education, as well as a meeting with Japanese residents of Indonesia.