#AnimatED: PH and Japan: Forgiving but not forgetting

#AnimatED: PH and Japan: Forgiving but not forgetting
The Japanese emperor’s historic visit evoked wartime memories amid his message of remembering

For 5 days, Emperor Akihito, 82, visited the Philippines, the first-ever official visit by a reigning Japanese emperor to the country, and it was marked by poignant and somber visits to various war memorials.

Throughout all these, the Emperor’s message of remembering rang clear: “… 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.”

Around 1.1 million Filipinos and some 518,000 Japanese soldiers and civilians perished during World War II.

It has been the mission of the Imperial Couple to honor the Japanese and non-Japanese who died during the war since they ascended the throne in 1989. They have been traveling to countries deeply affected by Japan’s wartime aggression, including China and some other Southeast Asian nations, the path they chose to promote peace.

That this message of remembrance of Japan’s atrocities – its brutal occupation of the Philippines – comes from the son of former Emperor Hirohito, who presided over Japan during World War II, gives it more meaning. (Akihito was 11 years old by the time the war had ended.)

Since then, the world has vastly changed.

The Emperor’s visit comes on the 60th year of the normalization of our countries’ relations and at a time when we’ve been drawn closer to each other because of China’s aggressive behavior. Last year, the Philippines and Japan held their first joint military drill in modern history.

Japan is the country’s largest aid giver and trade partner. It has also been most supportive of the peace process in Mindanao, providing aid to boost development in the area.

On the level of people-to-people relations, more Filipinos have been visiting Japan as tourists as visa rules have been relaxed.

However, the unresolved issue of the comfort women casts a gloomy shadow on these thriving relations. The Japanese government has not offered an official apology and given compensation to the Philippine comfort women – unlike what it did to the Korean women forced into sexual slavery during the war.

The years have a way of eroding pain but not one’s memories which withstand the passage of time. – Rappler.com



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