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Crown prince leaves for 1st official visit to France

Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito is pictured at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, on Sept. 7, 2018, before leaving for France. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Crown Prince Naruhito left for his first official visit to France on Friday to commemorate the 160th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

During the nine-day trip, he plans to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and attend a Japan-themed cultural event. It is expected to be his last foreign trip as crown prince as he is set to ascend the throne after Emperor Akihito abdicates April 30 next year.

France invited the 58-year-old crown prince and Crown Princess Masako, but she did not accompany him as the Imperial Household Agency took heed of her health condition.

The crown prince, who departed from Tokyo's Haneda airport aboard a government plane, is scheduled to arrive in Lyon on Friday evening. After visiting a textile museum and other locations there, he will visit Paris, where he will meet President Emanuel at the Palace of Versailles on Wednesday.

He will also attend the Japonismes 2018 event in Paris and watch a Kabuki performance, as well as taking part in lighting up the Eiffel Tower.

Prior to the official trip, he traveled to France when he was studying at Britain's Oxford University in the 1980s. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited France as a state guest in 1994.

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