JAPANESE Emperor Akihito yesterday said he will mourn the lives of Filipinos who died or were hurt by Japanese troops during World War II during his visit to the Philippines.
Seeing the Philippines again after 54 years, Akihito also had two things in mind: cars and traffic.
The Japanese Emperor said Japan would never forget the hardships and wounds it caused during the World War II that resulted in the loss of lives and injuries to many Filipinos, as he prayed for a deeper understanding and an even closer tie between the Philippines and Japan.
The Emperor, during the state dinner hosted by President Aquino in Malacañan Palace, said the Philippines and Japan always enjoyed friendly exchanges as early as the mid-16th century through trade and commerce.
He said Philippine national hero Jose Rizal visited Japan when the Philippines was under Spanish rule and had become “a pioneer in forging friendly ties between the Philippines and Japan.”
The Emperor said it was unfortunate that during the World War II, many Filipinos had died and had been hurt.
“Last year, Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. During this war, fierce battles between Japan and the United States took place on Philippine soil, resulting in the loss of many Filipino lives and leaving many Filipinos injured. This is something we Japanese must never forget and we intend to keep this engraved in our hearts throughout our visit,” he said.
The Emperor expressed hope that his visit would “contribute to deepen the mutual understanding and friendly relations between the peoples of our two countries.”
President Aquino, for his part, prayed for stronger and strategic ties between the Philippines and Japan that would benefit their people.
Aquino thanked Japan for supporting the Mindanao peace process and the advancement of Philippine maritime and disaster management capabilities. He also acknowledged Japan for being the Philippines’ top trading partner in 2014 and largest source of official development assistance.
In their morning meeting at the Palace, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Akihito and President Aquino talked about the Imperial Couple’s visit to Baguio and Tagaytay in 1962 as well as the volume of traffic in Metro Manila which are a result of more cars, a major Japanese contribution to the economy.
The President and his sister, Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada, escorted the Emperor and Empress to the Presidential Hall where they viewed some of the portraits of the Philippine presidents before proceeding to the Music Room for a 20-minute private meeting.
Aside from cars and traffic, Coloma said Aquino and Akihito also talked about the increased presence of Japanese brand and businesses in the Philippines like retailer Uniqlo, which introduced the Heattech technology to Filipinos.
Uniqlo Heattech wear are comprised of clothes made from lightweight fabric that enables heat retention to keep a person warm without having to resort to wearing bulky clothes.
In a statement issued through presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the discussions also touched on the increase of Filipino visitors to Japan.
At the State Banquet, the Japanese Imperial Couple and guests were served a four-course Filipino-inspired menu.
On Thursday, the Japanese couple will meet Japanese residents and students in the Philippines, and visit the TESDA Language Training Center.
On Friday, they would visit the International Rice Research Institute and the Japanese Memorial Garden, both in Laguna.(J. Montemayor, MA)