Japan’s royal couple touched Pinoys' lives – Palace
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 31, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang yesterday thanked Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for touching the lives of Filipinos during their historic five-day visit to the Philippines, which ended over the weekend.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the historic visit of the imperial couple has further strengthened the enduring ties of friendship and cooperation between the Japanese and Filipino peoples after World War II strained the relations of the two Asian nations.

“Their Majesties personify their sterling qualities of magnanimity and heartfelt empathy that have touched and warmed the hearts of our people,” he added.

President Aquino himself led the sendoff for the 82-year-old emperor and the 81-year-old empress on Saturday. They were also given departure honors at the Balagbag Ramp of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The President was accompanied by his sister Pinky Abellada, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez, Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

The state visit of the imperial couple marked the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan and to honor those who died during the war.

The Philippines endured brutal Japanese occupation during the war, which saw tens of thousands of soldiers die marching to Japanese concentration camps. An estimated 100,000 people also died during the month-long campaign to liberate Manila in 1945, which saw aerial bombings and gunfire flatten the city.

Akihito has made honoring Japanese and non-Japanese who died in World War II a touchstone of his nearly three-decade reign.

Akihito has also previously journeyed to other Pacific battle sites where Japanese troops and civilians made desperate last stands in the name of his father, the late Emperor Hirohito.

The highlights of the imperial couple’s visit to the Philippines include a meeting with Aquino at Malacañang, wreath laying at the Rizal Park and at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and a visit to the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s Language Skills Institute.

AKIHITO ATILDE BALAGBAG RAMP OF THE NINOY AQUINO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT EMPEROR HIROHITO FOREIGN AFFAIRS SECRETARY ALBERT JAPAN MANOLO LOPEZ JAPANESE JAPANESE AND FILIPINO JAPANESE EMPEROR AKIHITO AND EMPRESS MICHIKO LANGUAGE SKILLS INSTITUTE WORLD WAR
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