“We Must Never Forget” Palau Visit Vol.1

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On 8th April, HIM Emperor Akihito and HIM Empress Michiko started two-day trip to Republic of Palau to comfort the souls of war dead commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

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At Tokyo International Airport, HIM Emperor Akihito delivered a speech.

Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor at the Time of Their Majesties’ Departure for the Republic of Palau

Text from Imperial Household Agency

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which brought fierce fighting to various parts of the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the loss of countless lives. Our thoughts go out to all those who went to the battlefields to defend their countries, never to return home.

In this milestone year, reflecting upon those many people who fell in battle, we will visit the Republic of Palau.

The Republic of Palau, along with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, was a German colony up through World War I. After that war, the Treaty of Versailles and the decision of the League of Nations placed those territories under the mandate of Japan. Palau became the site of Japan’s South Seas Agency, and many people emigrated there from Japan. By around 1935, more than 50,000 Japanese nationals – a number greater than the native population – had come to live on those islands.

In 1944, the year before the end of the war, fierce battles took place in the region, and Japanese forces fought to their deaths on many islands. The island of Peleliu, which we will visit on this trip, was one of those islands. Some 10,000 Japanese soldiers and 1,700 American soldiers lost their lives there. We believe that we must never forget that those beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean have such a tragic history.

It is our sincere hope that our visit to the Republic of Palau will contribute to the further development of the friendly cooperative relations that our nations have forged so far. While we are there, we will mourn and pay tribute to both the Japanese and Americans who perished in the region. At the same time, taking this opportunity, we wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to His Excellency the President and all the people of Palau, for, although they suffered the ravages of war themselves, the people of Palau worked hard after the war to care for the memorial cenotaphs and cemeteries and to collect the remains of the fallen.

We are deeply grateful that during our stay there, Their Excellencies the Presidents and First Ladies of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will also visit the Republic of Palau, joining His Excellency the President and the First Lady of the Republic of Palau on our trip to Peleliu.

Finally, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all those who worked so hard to make this visit possible.

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Their Majesties arrived at Palau International Airport

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with HE Mr. Tommy E. REMENGESAU, Jr., President of the Republic of Palau and the First Lady

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Children of Palau

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Their Majesties were welcomed not only by the Republic of Palau but also by HE Mr. Christopher J. LOEAK, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the First Lady and HE Mr. Emanuel Manny Mori, President of the Federated States of Micronesia and the First Lady.

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Their Majesties attended the Banquet with Presidential couples of 3 countries.

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Reply Address by His Majesty the Emperor at the Banquet hosted by the Leadership of the Republic of Palau

Text from Sankei

It is deeply moving for the Empress and myself to be visiting the Republic of Palau in this milestone year, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellency President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. for the invitation. I would also like to thank Your Excellency for hosting this banquet for us this evening, and for your most gracious words of welcome. I also wish to take this opportunity to say how happy we are that His Excellency President Emanuel Mori and the First Lady of the Federated States of Micronesia and His Excellency President Christopher J. Loeak and the First Lady of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are also visiting the Republic of Palau at this time to spend today and tomorrow with su. We are truly grateful to them.

After World War I, the Micronesian region was placed under the mandate of Japan by the League of Nations. Palau became the site of Japan’s South Seas Agency, and many people emigrated here form Japan. I am told that those people got to know the people of Palau well and they worked together to contribute to the development of the region. There are many people with Japanese names playing active roles in your country, including former President Kunio Nakamura, which is a testimony to the long history of exchange between our two countries, making us feel a sense of closeness.

During World War II, however, fierce battle between the United States and Japan took place in this region, including the present Republic of Palau, resulting in the loss of countless lives. It is said that the Japanese military were concerned for the safety of the people of Palau, trying to get them to evacuate to a safe place. But it is truly painful that there were islander casualties due to air raids, food shortages and plagues. We are here in Palau to mourn and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in World War II and reflect on the hardships suffered by the bereaved families.

We wish to talk this opportunity to offer our heartfelt thanks to the people of the region who, although they suffered the ravages of war themselves, worked hard after the war to care for the memorial cenotaphs and cemeteries and to collect the remains of the fallen.

More than 20 years have passed since Japan established diplomatic relations with the three countries of Micronesia. It gives me great pleasure to see that our relationship is deepening in the field of fisheries and tourism, in particular. It is my hope that Japan’s exchanges with each country will further flourish in the future.

I would now like to raise my glass in a toast to many years of good health for Your Excellency President Remengesau and the First Lady of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency President Mori and the First Lady of the Federated States of Micronesia, and His Excellency President Loeak and the First Lady of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and to the happiness of the people of the three countries.

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Photo from Asahi1, Asahi2Sankei1 and Sankei2

[Article] Emperor, empress arrive in Palau to honor WWII dead on 70th anniv.

Text from Mainichi Daily News

KOROR, Palau (Kyodo) — Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko on Wednesday arrived in Palau in the western Pacific on a two-day trip to pay respects to those who lost their lives there during World War II, with this year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Palau, which was ruled by Japan for about 30 years until the end of the war in 1945, was the site of a fierce battle between Japanese and U.S. forces in 1944. Around 16,000 Japanese soldiers perished on Palauan islands, while the death toll for U.S. troops stood at nearly 2,000.

“We believe that we must never forget that those beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean have such a tragic history,” the emperor said shortly before his departure from Tokyo’s Haneda airport, referring to those who perished in the battles in the region.

“It is our sincere hope that our visit to the Republic of Palau will contribute to the further development of the friendly cooperative relations that our nations have forged so far,” he said.

On arriving at the international airport on Palau’s main island on a chartered commercial plane, the imperial couple were welcomed by President Tommy Remengesau, a fourth-generation Japanese-Palauan, and his wife.

Later in the day, the imperial couple will attend a banquet sponsored by the Palau government, to be joined by Micronesian President Emanuel Mori and Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak as well as their wives. Both countries were also under Japanese rule before and during the war.

The emperor and empress will lodge on the Japan Coast Guard patrol ship Akitsushima, one of the world’s largest patrol vessels, in a move aimed at reducing the burden on the couple, both in their 80s, by shortening transportation time the following day.

The 6,500-ton and 150-meter-long vessel carries a helicopter that will take them directly Thursday to Peleliu Island, the site of a bloody battle that killed around 10,000 Japanese soldiers and 1,600 U.S. troops.

Together with the presidents of Palau, Micronesia and Marshall Islands, the imperial couple are scheduled to lay flowers at a cenotaph on Peleliu Island erected by the Japanese government in memory of those who died there.

The emperor and empress will also offer a silent prayer at a separate monument for U.S. soldiers and meet with local islanders before wrapping up their trip later Thursday.

The couple’s trip comes amid concerns about the health of the 81-year-old emperor, who has skipped some official duties since late March due to a cold.

Meanwhile, the couple have made efforts to deepen their knowledge about the situation on Peleliu Island during and after the war.

They met with two former Japanese soldiers who survived the fierce battle and they were briefed by a senior welfare ministry official about the government’s search for the remains of Japanese soldiers on the island.

The Japanese government found human bones that appear to be the remains of six soldiers in its latest search last month, but those of roughly 2,600 have yet to be recovered.

To pay their respects to the war dead and pray for peace, the imperial couple have made trips to war-related locations such as Hiroshima and Nagasaki, devastated by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings, and Okinawa, where a fierce ground battle between Japan and the United States claimed the lives of more than 200,000 civilians and soldiers.

In 2005 on the 60th anniversary of the end of the war, the emperor and empress expressed their hope to visit Palau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands to pray for the souls of the war dead. But due to transportation constraints, they gave up on the idea and instead visited Saipan for the same purpose.

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