President Rodrigo Roa Duterte administers the oath of the newly-promoted generals and flag officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines during a ceremony at the Malacañan Palace on May 27, 2019.
Presidential photo/Albert Alcain
Duterte won't be meeting emperor during Japan trip
Alexis Romero ( - May 28, 2019 - 4:27pm

TOKYO, Japan — President Rodrigo Duterte would not have the chance to meet with Japanese Emperor Naruhito during his visit here because of some protocols, the Philippines' envoy to Japan said Tuesday.

Ambassador Jose Laurel V said other leaders attending the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia would have to be allowed to see the emperor if Duterte is invited to meet with him. 

"No one will see him (emperor), not even anyone of the five that were invited to speak at Nikkei because Nikkei is a private affair. And there is no chance because if you allow Duterte (to meet with the emperor), you also have to allow (Malaysian Prime Minister) Mahathir (Mohamad). If you allow Mahathir, you also have to allow the leaders of Laos and Cambodia," he said in a press briefing here. 

"You see the Japanese are very protocolar. They are very traditional. They actually choose who visits them. For the emperor because the emperor is the symbol of Japan," he added. 

Other Asian leaders invited to the Nikkei conference are Prime Minister Sheik Hasina of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos. 

While none of the leaders attending the conference will see Naruhito, US President Donald Trump, who was on a four-day state visit to Japan, met with the emperor, making him the first foreign head of state to do so. 

Laurel likened Naruhito to a bride whose face should not be seen before the wedding.  

"The Japanese have their own rituals. You have to understand them. You have to understand their culture, their system. And in the end, you get along with them because they have a system that you have to wait until they are crowned," the envoy said. 

Naruhito ascended to the throne this month after his father Akihito abdicated, the first by a Japanese emperor in centuries. A formal enthronement ceremony is expected to be held in October. 

In 2017, Duterte met with then Japanese emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko and thanked them for visiting the Philippines during the 60th anniversary of the normalization of Philippine-Japan diplomatic relations in 2016. 

Envoy: Duterte interesting to the Japanese 

While Duterte is not expected to meet with the new emperor, he is an "interesting" figure to the Japanese because of his leadership style, Laurel said. 

"The Japanese are always fascinated with leadership that is recognized, affirmed by their own people at the same time a tremendous political will insofar as his programs are concerned. So he is not controversial but interesting. Ibang klase (One of a kind) for the Japanese," the ambassador said. 

"The Japanese are also interested in quality leadership that leads the nation," he added. 

Laurel said the Japanese are also fascinated by the Philippines' economic growth, something he attributed to the president's anti-corruption campaign. 
"This person is one of a kind. If he says something, he will do it. The first time I have seen this kind of leadership since (the late president Ramon) Magsaysay," Laurel said. 

"In other words, I do not smell (corruption in this administration). I will not work at 75 to destroy my family name," he added.

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