Duterte thanks Japan emperor for kindness during 2016 visit to PH
TOKYO — President Rodrigo Duterte thanked Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for their kindness and compassion during their Philippine visit when he paid them a courtesy call at the Imperial Palace on Tuesday.
Mr. Duterte, accompanied by his partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña, had an audience with the emperor and empress at the end of his two-day official visit to Japan, his second time to come to the country as President of the Philippines.
He flew back to the Philippines early on Tuesday evening.
During the visit to the Imperial Palace, Mr. Duterte conveyed his appreciation and gratitude for the imperial couple’s kindness and compassion when they came to the Philippines in 2016 for the 60th anniversary of the normalization of Philippine-Japan diplomatic relations, according to a Malacañang statement.
The Palace provided no further details of Mr. Duterte’s meeting with the emperor and empress.
Mr. Duterte was supposed to meet Akihito during his visit to Japan in October last year but the meeting was canceled because the emperor’s uncle died.
He also tried to meet Akihito in June, but had to postpone his trip to Japan because of the outbreak of violence in Marawi.
Tuesday’s meeting with Akihito was Mr. Duterte’s last chance to pay him an official visit, as the emperor had been given the right to abdicate next year, Philippine Ambassador Jose Laurel V said earlier.
Respect and admiration
Prior to his visit, Mr. Duterte said he was eager to convey his deep respect and admiration for the imperial couple.
He also said he had to watch his mouth during the visit.
“I suppose that I have to limit my mouth there, except maybe to bring the warm greetings of the Filipino nation, a grateful nation to Japan, as a matter of fact,” he said.
Mr. Duterte’s scheduled meeting with the emperor last year had generated some concern among the Japanese because of his informal style.
Before visiting the royal couple, Mr. Duterte also met with the descendants of former Prime Minister of Japan Takeo Fukuda and posthumously conferred the Gawad Sikatuna with the Rank of Raja (Grand Collar) on Fukuda.
The citation said Fukuda was given the honor “for his significant role in helping usher in an era of cooperation, peaceful relations, trust and friendship between Japan and Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), through his articulation of the ‘Fukuda Doctrine’ on 18 August 1977 during his visit to Manila.”
Fukuda was credited for pursuing a program for universal peace and harmony, now known as the “Fukuda Doctrine.”
He advocated for a heart-to-heart policy that promoted cooperation between Japan and other nations, including those in Southeast Asia.
The Order of Sikatuna is a diplomatic merit conferred on diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered exceptional and meritorious service in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between the Philippines and their countries.
The Japanese officials who have been conferred the Order of Sikatuna are Crown Prince Akihito, Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, Crown Prince Naruhito, Japan International Cooperation Agency president Sadako Ogata, and Ambassadors Toshio Urabe, Kiyoshi Sumiya, Tsuneo Tanaka, Hirokazu Arai, Yoshifumi Matsuda, Yoshihisa Ara, Kojiro Takano and Takeshi Yasukawa.
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