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‘No selfies please’ at reception for emperor

/ 09:18 AM January 29, 2016
28state-dinner

BANQUET FIT FOR EMPEROR President Aquino addresses Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at a state dinner on Thursday in Malacañang’s Ceremonial Hall. With them are the President’s sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada and opposition presidential candidate Vice President Jejomar Binay. LYN RILLON/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Japanese imperial couple would have been the subject of selfies among the country’s rich and powerful last Thursday night’s reception dinner hosted by the Japanese envoy to the Philippines.

However, no thanks, that would be against the Japanese protocol.

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Instructions were laid out moments before Emperor Akihito and his wife Michiko arrived at the residence of Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa at the posh Forbes Park in Makati City.
The couple are on a historic five-day state visit which began last Tuesday.

READ: Japan’s emperor, empress arrive in Manila for 5-day visit

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Speaking over a microphone, Atsushi Ueno, the deputy chief of mission of the Japanese Embassy in Manila began his instructions with “their excellencies” to the guests within the hall of Kazuhide’s house.

Ueno was addressing the country’s throng of VIPs: former President Fidel V. Ramos and his wife Ming, Senate President Franklin Drilon, House Speaker Feliciano Jr., Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario and members of the Aquino cabinet, businessmen Jaime Zobel de Ayala and Ramon Ang.

“Only the press and the official photographers are allowed to take pictures here. So please refrain from taking photos with any device including a mobile phone,” the Japanese diplomat said.

Japanese and Filipino journalists covering the reception were kept at bay by a cordon at one corner of the hall.

“Please turn off your mobile phone and set it to silent mode,” the diplomat added.

“Unless their majesties extend their hands,  please refrain from shaking hand with them,” the Japanese official said, repeating it later to stress the point.

“I’m sorry to say,” the embassy’s deputy said afterward, sounding apologetic for the rigid rules that they were bound to follow.
“Please do not present any gift to the majesties,” he said, drawing little pockets of laughter in the audience.
“Talk to the majesties only when they talk to you. Talk clearly and loudly,” he further said.

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The last rule, he said, “their majesties wish to have conversations with as many guests as possible. Please refrain from talking too long. Please stop trying to have a conversation again and again with their majesties.”
The emperor in a black suit and his empress in a brown kimono, the Japanese traditional garment, arrived with President Benigno Aquino III and his sister Pinky Aquino-Abellada at 7:11 p.m.
The guests one by one came to the emperor and the empress, as if according to their stature. Former president Ramos came first followed by Drilon and Belmonte.

A bow, followed by a hand-shake was, however, the way to greet the emperor and the empress as the journalists have observed.

READ: Japanese emperor bows upon arrival

Those seeking audience with their majesties have to line up and wait for their turn in an orderly fashion which was not a typical sight during reception for diplomats, businessmen and government officials.
Aquino and his sister left half an hour afterward with the royal couple seeing them off.

Without eating, the Japanese imperial couple left the reception shortly before 8 p.m. and headed to Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza, where they are billeted in the duration of their visit.

The Thursday night’s list of protocols showed how the Japanese revere the Japanese Emperor, who lack the executive and political power, however, has remained a figurehead in Japan.

The emperor, which is called as “heavenly sovereign” in the Japanese language, has remained Japan’s “symbol of the State and the unity of the people” as the country’s 1947 Constitution states. RAM

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TAGS: Diplomacy, Emperor Akihito, Empress Michiko, Japan, President Benigno Aquino III, Relations, royal, selfie, state visit
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