MANILA, Philippines – Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko are scheduled to visit a memorial site for Filipino soldiers who died in World War II, during their state visit to the Philippines in late January, according to Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.
“The schedule has been arranged in consideration of the Philippines, which was forced to sacrifice so many lives,” the newspaper said, citing a source.
They will visit the Heroes Cemetery in Taguig, which is devoted to those who died during World War II.
Japan has repeatedly apologized for the war. During President Benigno Aquino III’s state visit to Japan last year, the emperor was quoted saying, “This is something we, Japanese, must long remember with a profound sense of remorse.”
The Imperial couple will also visit a monument in Caliraya, Laguna, that is devoted to the the 520,000 Japanese who died in the Philippines during the war.
“Taking into consideration the feelings local people might have against mourning the Japanese war dead, the Imperial couple will fly to Caliraya aboard a helicopter based on the Akitsushima, a large Japan Coast Guard patrol vessel, instead of traveling in a motorcade that would involve traffic regulations,” the newspaper said.
The 5-day visit that will begin January 26 – the first that a reigning emperor will make to the Philippines – will mark the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Upon the arrival of the Imperial couple, they will lay a wreath at the Rizal Park in Manila. They will meet Aquino in Malacañang and then attend a Palace dinner banquet held in their honor.
They will also meet representatives of the Japanese-Filipino community.
The state visit is scheduled as the two countries develop stronger ties in the wake of China’s aggressiveness in the South China Sea.
The two countries have agreed to start talks on a visiting forces agreement that will allow rotating visits of Japanese troops in the Philippines, simililar to the Philippine’s agreements with the US and Australia.
Japan is keen on providing large patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard. – Rappler.com