HANOI, Vietnam (AP) " Japan's emperor has expressed sympathy to the Vietnamese families abandoned by Japanese soldiers after World War II.

Akihito met with a wife and 15 children of former Japanese soldiers in Hanoi on Thursday and told them that he understands their difficulties and hope bilateral relations will continue to develop.

Some 600 to 800 Japanese soldiers remained in Vietnam after Japan's surrender in 1945 and they helped train Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh with their military expertise to fight the French colonial forces.

The first group of 71 soldiers was forced to leave after the Communists defeated French forces in 1954, abandoning their wives and children, who faced with difficulties and discrimination.