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Japanese emperor to honor World War II dead in PH

/ 02:55 PM January 02, 2016
Japan's Emperor Akihito delivers a speech to well-wishers from a balcony of the Imperial Palace as Empress Michiko listens during New Year's public appearance in Tokyo, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. AP PHOTO

Japan’s Emperor Akihito delivers a speech to well-wishers from a balcony of the Imperial Palace as Empress Michiko listens during New Year’s public appearance in Tokyo, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016. AP PHOTO

Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will visit memorial sites for Filipino and Japanese war dead during their stay in the Philippines from late January, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

This will be the first time for the Imperial couple to pay tribute in the Philippines to people from the two countries who died there during World War II, according to the schedule for their stay. The visits have been arranged in accordance with their wishes.

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During the five-day official visit starting Jan. 26, the Emperor and Empress will attend events to mark the 60th anniversary of normalizing diplomatic relations, while also visiting a national cemetery for the Filipino war dead and then a monument for the Japanese war dead. The schedule has been arranged in consideration of the Philippines, which was forced to sacrifice so many lives, sources said.

The Imperial couple is scheduled to attend a welcoming ceremony at Rizal Park in Manila the day after they arrive in the country. They will meet President Benigno Aquino III at Malacañang Palace before attending a banquet that night, according to the schedule.

READ: Japan’s Emperor, Empress to visit PH in January

In addition, the Emperor and Empress will offer flowers to the statue of Jose Rizal, a national hero in the country’s independent movement, in Manila. They will also place flowers at the Heroes Cemetery in Taguig, which is dedicated mainly to soldiers who died during World War II and the Vietnam War.

The Emperor mentioned the loss of Filipino lives during a banquet for Aquino at the Imperial Palace when Aquino visited Japan in June. “This is something we Japanese must long remember with a profound sense of remorse,” he said. During the upcoming visit, the Imperial couple will express condolences anew by visiting the memorials, sources said.

READ: Emperor voices remorse for Japan’s actions in war

On Jan. 29, the Emperor and Empress will visit a monument for the Japanese war dead in Caliraya, Laguna Province. About 520,000 Japanese died in the Philippines in World War II, the largest number outside of Japan. Relatives of the dead will also attend the ceremony, at which flowers will be offered. 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. They also traveled by helicopter when they visited Palau in April.

On Jan. 28, the Emperor and Empress will meet with representatives of the Japanese-Filipino community. They are descendants of Japanese who moved to the Southeast Asian country from the early 20th century. They welcome an Imperial visit to the Philippines, because many Japanese-Filipinos went through hard times amid anti-Japan sentiment following the end of the war.

The itinerary has been arranged in consideration of the aging Imperial couple, with official events set for the second day and no plans for the final day. The schedule will be reported to the Cabinet early this month.

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TAGS: Akihito, Diplomacy, Japan, Japanese emperor, Japanese empress, Michiko, Philippines, war veterans, World War II
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