'Deeper' PH-Japan ties as Japanese emperor, empress end visit
MANILA, Philippines – Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko left Manila on Saturday, January 30, ending their 5-day state visit seen to further deepen the 60 years of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Japan.
The imperial couple left before noontime Saturday. President Benigno Aquino III was at the departure ceremonies held in honor of the state guests, and chatted briefly with Akihito before he boarded his plane.
Malacañang said on Saturday that the visit bolstered bilateral ties between the two countries.
"Coming at this auspicious time, Their Majesties’ visit further deepens the friendship between our two countries, strengthening the foundation of our bilateral relations for years to come," Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said in an interview on dzRB.
In a news briefing on the eve of the state guests' departure on Friday, Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr described the imperial couple as "models of humility."
The visit, upon the invitation of President Benigno Aquino III, was timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan.
The trip to the Philippines is the latest pacifist pilgrimage of the 82-year-old Akihito, who has made Heisei, or "achieving peace" – the practice of honoring Japanese and non-Japanese who died in World War II – a touchstone of his near 3-decade reign.
In the Philippines, which saw some of the war's fiercest fighting, Akihito and Michiko visited the national Heroes' Cemetery and a memorial for Japanese war dead. (READ: Emperor Akihito: Japan 'must never forget' Filipino deaths of WWII)
They also met with Japanese citizens in the Philippines and interacted with Filipinos who have studied in Japan, and visited the International Rice Research Institute in Laguna. (READ: IN PHOTOS: Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, meet with Japanese in PH)
Japan is the Philippines’ top trading partner and a major source of official development assistance. Japan has also been the Philippine’s partner in infrastructure development, and in promoting peace and development in Mindanao. – with reports from Agence France-Presse Rappler.com