President Rodrigo Duterte fourth visit to Japan, the largest provider of official development assistance to the Philippines.
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Duterte joins world leaders in Japan emperor rites
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte left for Japan yesterday to join leaders and representatives of more than 170 countries in witnessing the enthronement of Japanese Emperor Naruhito.

Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea will serve as officer-in-charge while the President is out of the country. Duterte is expected to return to the Philippines tomorrow.

It will be Duterte’s fourth visit to Japan, the largest provider of official development assistance to the Philippines.

About 2,000 guests from 174 countries are expected to attend the enthronement of Naruhito today.

The President and his small delegation left at 6:36 p.m. on a private jet, the model or type of which was not disclosed.

“While this administration is unyielding in charting an independent foreign policy course, it considers Japan, or the Land of the Rising Sun, as a special strategic partner in various areas and greatly values the diplomatic ties of the Philippines with it. After all, Japan is our second major trading partner and fourth biggest source and market for Philippine tourism,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“The golden age of Philippines-Japan friendship has indeed started to unfold. (President Duterte), as our head of state, therefore believes that it is but proper to give honor to an important partner by being present at the enthronement ceremony which is considered by the Japanese to be one of their country’s most momentous events,” he added.

Panelo noted that Japan has contributed to the Philippines’ infrastructure development and has been supporting Manila’s first subway project. Japan has also helped the Duterte administration in its peace and development efforts in Mindanao, he added.

A total of 26 business deals with an estimated investment value of P288 billion was signed during Duterte’s third visit to Japan last May.

Traditional robe

Emperor Naruhito, 59, acceded to the throne in May after his father, Akihito, became the first monarch to abdicate in two centuries. Following are the main events planned for Oct. 22, a one-off national holiday.

Emperor Naruhito, like his father nearly three decades ago, will wear a traditional robe and headdress to the ceremony that will start at 1 p.m. (0400 GMT) at the Imperial Palace’s Matsu no ma, or Hall of Pine, the most prestigious space in the palace.

He will declare his enthronement from the “Takamikura” – a 6.5-meter-high pavilion that weighs about eight tons – with a sword and a jewel, two of the so-called Three Sacred Treasures, placed beside him.

Together with a mirror called Yata-no-Kagami, kept at the Ise Grand Shrine, the holiest site in Japan’s Shinto religion, the ancient sword and jewel comprise the regalia that symbolize the legitimacy of the emperor.

Emperor Akihito pledged during the previous ceremony in 1990 to observe Japan’s pacifist constitution and fulfill his duty as a symbol of the state and of the unity of the people.

Emperor Naruhito’s proclamation will be followed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s congratulatory address. Abe will then lead three cheers for the new emperor, bringing the 30-minute ceremony to a close.

About 16.1 billion yen ($148 million) has been earmarked for succession-related ceremonies throughout the year, including the enthronement.

Other guests include Britain’s Prince Charles, who along with Princess Diana attended Akihito’s enthronement ceremony, US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, and South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon.

Also attending are Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and Myanmar leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will also likely attend, according to domestic media reports, but their names were not on a list issued by the government on Friday.

Banquets

A court banquet will begin at 7:20 p.m., attended by foreign dignitaries and representatives of Japan’s executive, legislative and judicial branches, and their spouses.

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, his Harvard-educated, ex-diplomat wife, will host a tea party for foreign royalty the following afternoon.

Abe will then host a banquet for about 900 foreign leaders and other delegation members at Tokyo’s Hotel New Otani in the evening.

To mark the enthronement, the government plans to grant pardons to about 550,000 people who committed petty crimes, such as traffic violations, and were fined.

Those pardoned will have restrictions on their legal rights lifted. In Japan, those who are convicted and fined are banned from obtaining licenses to become physicians or nurses for five years.

EMPEROR NARUHITO RODRIGO DUTERTE
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