Duterte awed by simplicity of Japan Emperor and Empress

Pia Ranada
Duterte awed by simplicity of Japan Emperor and Empress
The Philippine leader says the royal couple's unassuming comportment is truly 'befitting the title of Majesty'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte admitted being awed by the simple lifestyle and unassuming comportment of Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

Speaking after landing in Davao City from Japan, Duterte said he had never visited such a simple royal home as Tokyo’s Imperial Palace. His meeting with the royal couple was his last activity in Japan.

“You know what, I have been to many places and palaces of great leaders and people. This is the first time I saw the such a simple palace,” he told reporters, adding that he found the palace to be “just a small place.”

He cited as an example the receiving room where he and his partner Honeylet Avanceña sat down to speak with the royal couple.

“And even his – the receiving room, you won’t see any pictures. It’s really a bland thing actually. And he lives very simply,” said Duterte, referring to the Emperor.

He also observed the Emperor and Empress to be modest and unassuming.

“The King is very [soft] spoken, especially Her Majesty Michiko,” said Duterte.

Their deportment, he added, is truly “befitting the title of Majesty.”

The Philippine President has often projected himself as a man who admires simple lifestyles and a self-effacing character. He likes to point out that he has lived in the same house in Davao City for decades and that he looks down on government officials who use special car plates or book presidential suites in hotels.

According to him, he and Emperor Akihito limited their discussion to “socials.” There was no talk of government policies. 

Hindi naman siya nagtanong sa iyo. So, hindi na rin ako nagsalita (He didn’t ask me so I didn’t bring it up),” said Duterte.

The Philippine President said he took the meeting as an opportunity to convey to the Emperor and Empress “our nation’s and people’s deep appreciation and gratitude for Japan’s continuing support for the Philippines’ peace and development goals.”

Duterte appeared to have put his best foot forward for the rare occasion, properly wearing a full suit and leaving out any gum-chewing.

During the President’s first visit to Japan last year, Japanese media was abuzz with  how Duterte would carry himself during the meeting with the Emperor, which was scheduled then but was canceled due to the death of Prince Mikasa. At the time, Duterte was criticized for chewing gum during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.