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Emperor Akihito expresses remorse over lives lost during WW2

29 January 2016 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post
President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on their arrival in Manila Tuesday (January 26) for a five-day State Visit to pay their respects for those who lost their lives here during World War II and to promote international goodwill. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on their arrival in Manila Tuesday (January 26) for a five-day State Visit to pay their respects for those who lost their lives here during World War II and to promote international goodwill. (MNS photo)

MANILA, Jan 28 (Mabuhay) – Japanese Emperor Akihito on Wednesday evening acknowledged that numerous Filipino lives were lost during the Second World War but he stopped short of claiming responsibility for the abuses committed by Japanese imperial soldiers against Filipinos.

“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,” the Japanese emperor said during the State Banquet in Malacañang Palace.

President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on their arrival in Manila Tuesday (January 26) for a five-day State Visit to pay their respects for those who lost their lives here during World War II and to promote international goodwill. (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on their arrival in Manila Tuesday (January 26) for a five-day State Visit to pay their respects for those who lost their lives here during World War II and to promote international goodwill. (MNS photo)

Elaborating on the statement of the Japanese emperor, Hatsuhisa Takashima, the emperor’s secretary, explained that while the emperor has not been known to point out the necessity of an action to the Japanese government, his words, nevertheless, have some degree of influence on the Japanese government.

No less than the Japanese constitution recognizes the emperor as the “symbol of State and of the unity of the people” so his words will have some effect but Takashima clarified that ultimately, the issue will be up to the Japanese people and government to decide.

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrive in Manila Tuesday (January 26) for a five-day State Visit and to pay their respects for those who lost their lives here during World War II and to promote international goodwill. They are welcome by President Benigno S. Aquino III, sister PinkyAbellada and members of his Cabinet at AGES Aviation Center, Balabag Ramp, Pasay City. (MNS photo)

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrive in Manila Tuesday (January 26) for a five-day State Visit and to pay their respects for those who lost their lives here during World War II and to promote international goodwill. They are welcome by President Benigno S. Aquino III, sister PinkyAbellada and members of his Cabinet at AGES Aviation Center, Balabag Ramp, Pasay City. (MNS photo)

A group of women who claimed to have been treated as sex slaves during the Japanese occupation earlier asked for an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government. They also demanded that their stories be included in official historical records.

However, the issue of comfort women was not taken up during the Japanese emperor’s meeting with President Aquino on Wednesday morning.

On Wednesday afternoon, Takashima explained that the emperor is only a symbolic head and has no hand in running the affairs of the Japanese government.

Takashima added that the Japanese emperor is very sincere and had expressed his grief on several occasions over the damage inflicted by the war on the Filipino people.

Meanwhile, Takashima said the emperor and empress are enjoying their stay in the Philippines so far.

-- President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at Malacañang Palace. The Japanese Imperial couple arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and was greeted by the President and presidential sister Aurora Corazon "Pinky" Aquino-Abellada. After the welcome ceremony, President Aquino introduced his Cabinet members to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. (MNS photo)

— President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at Malacañang Palace. The Japanese Imperial couple arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and was greeted by the President and presidential sister Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada. After the welcome ceremony, President Aquino introduced his Cabinet members to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. (MNS photo)

“They were so pleased and I think one of the happiest moment for them during their stay in Manila. They are most appreciative of the preparedness,” Takashima said.

The State Banquet featured performances from the Loboc Children’s Choir, whose members were flown in from Bohol for the occasion.

“When all the performances were over and the time came for them to leave Malacañang Palace, they hardly walked from the podium to the exit, just exchanged words of thanks and listen to what audience said along the way so it took time actually, very long,” Takashima said.

The press briefing itself, originally set at 10:15 pm, started an hour later. An apologetic Takashima, himself a former veteran journalist, asked for understanding from the media as the State Banquet finished an hour behind schedule.

-- President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at Malacañang Palace. The Japanese Imperial couple arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and was greeted by the President and presidential sister Aurora Corazon "Pinky" Aquino-Abellada. After the welcome ceremony, President Aquino introduced his Cabinet members to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. (MNS photo)

— President Benigno S. Aquino III welcomes Japan’s Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at Malacañang Palace. The Japanese Imperial couple arrived at about 10:30 a.m. and was greeted by the President and presidential sister Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Aquino-Abellada. After the welcome ceremony, President Aquino introduced his Cabinet members to Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. (MNS photo)

At the start of the State Banquet, the royal couple met privately with President Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay. Takashima described the meeting as “very cordial.” Topics ranged from the weather in Manila to rising temperatures in Tokyo.

The empress expressed gratitude and appreciation to Filipino assistance to victims of magnitude-9.0 earthquake which hit eastern Japan five years ago. Vice President Binay in turn thanked the Japanese for their assistance to Filipino typhoon victims.

Both parties pledged to explore ways to address effects of natural disasters, as both countries are prone to earthquakes and typhoons.

“Prevention of natural disaster and mitigation of damage inflicted by those natural disaster should be done cooperatively between two countries and this will help for the betterment of the necessary measures taken by each government,” Takashima said.

In his speech, the Japanese emperor recalled their first visit to the country 54 years ago in November 1962, as then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko.

“To this day, the memory of the warm smiles we received from His Excellency President Diosdado Pangan Macapagal and the First Lady as they stood by our plane when we arrived at Manila Airport and the warm welcome we received from the people of the Philippines remain deep in our hearts. It was on that visit that we visited General Emilio Aguinaldo and Mrs. Aguinaldo in Cavite, where we stood with them on the balcony from which Philippine independence was declared by the General in 1898, and this still remains an unforgettable memory for us,” Emperor Akihito said.

He then traced commercial ties between the two countries which dates to as far back as the mid-16th century. Following the Second World War, ties were normalized in 1956.

“It is our deepest hope that our visit will contribute to deepen the mutual understanding and friendly relations between the peoples of our two countries,” the Emperor said before leading a toast.

The royal couple is expected to meet with Japanese communities before leaving the country on Saturday.

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