Japan emperor, empress arrive in Philippines today
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 25, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrive in Manila today for a five-day state visit, their second visit after 54 years.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the state visit is a major highlight and fitting start to the 60th anniversary celebration of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan.

President Aquino has acknowledged that Filipinos have found in the Japanese “steadfast partners and friends in the truest sense of the word,” which was concretely manifested by Tokyo’s being the largest contributor of official development assistance to the Philippines.

“Japan is also one of the leading international advocates of the peace process in Mindanao. Moreover, Japan has provided significant assistance to the Philippines in terms of improving urban transportation and in providing relief to calamity victims,” Coloma added.

He said Aquino recalled that when he accompanied his mother, then President Corazon Aquino, during her visit to Japan in 1986, Emperor Akihito’s father, the late Emperor Hirohito, advised him to take care of his parents.

He said that Japan was one of the countries that provided robust support for the Philippines’ newly reclaimed democracy 30 years ago. 

During their state visit, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will make a side trip to Laguna in addition to their scheduled activities in Manila.

It will be Akihito and Michiko’s first official visit to the Philippines since 1962 when they were then the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan.

The Japanese imperial couple’s visit to the Philippines is a reciprocal one, after President Aquino visited Tokyo in June 2015, when he invited Their Majesties to spend some time in Manila.

When Aquino visited Japan last year, Akihito fondly remembered their visit to Manila in 1962 to reciprocate the state visit to Japan by the late President Carlos Garcia.

“The warm welcome we received at the time from President Diosdado Macapagal and the first lady, as well as from the people of the Philippines, remains an unforgettable memory for us,” he recalled.

The highlight of their Manila visit was in Cavite where “we stood with them (Macapagal family) on the balcony from which Philippine independence was declared in 1898, following the victory in the war for independence from Spain.”

“This was a deeply moving experience for us,” Akihito said, having visited General Emilio Aguinaldo in Cavite.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) issued yesterday a notice to airmen (notam) B0330/16 due to the special operations on the arrival of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s runways 06/24 and runway 13/31 will be closed for commercial operations from 2:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. today for their arrival and from 11 a.m. until noon on Saturday for their departure.

The royal couple will be on flight JF001, a Boeing B747-400 of the Japan Air Force, and will be accompanied by their entourage on flight JF002 of the same aircraft type.

Budget carrier Cebu Pacific and its subsidiary Cebgo have cancelled a total of 72 flights today and Saturday after the announcement of the temporary runway closure at the NAIA.

In a statement yesterday, Cebu Pacific said it cancelled 28 flights, while Cebgo suspended eight flights scheduled for today.

For Saturday, Cebu Pacific cancelled 30 flights, while Cebgo put off six flights.

Cebu Pacific said the airlines decided to suspend the flights after receiving the notam.

Comfort women

 An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday said President Aquino should bring before Akihito the plight of Filipino comfort women.

“President Aquino must not let this opportunity pass. He should not only be willing but must in fact act on behalf of our long suffering comfort women,” said CBCP-Public Affairs Committee executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano. – With Rudy Santos, Evelyn Macairan



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