On 4th June, HIM Emperor Akihito, HIM Empress Michiko and HIH Crown Prince Naruhito attended the welcoming ceremony for HE Mr Benigno S. AquinoIII, President of the Republic of the Philippines who is visiting Japan as the State Guest took place at Imperial Palace.
The welcoming ceremony took place inside the building of Imperial Palace owing to the rain.
The Imperial Audience
At the evening, Their Majesties held the Imperial Banquet for the President at Imperial Palace.
The other members of Imperial Family including HIH Crown Princess Masako also attended the Banquet.
HIH Princess Kako of Akishino attended the Imperial Banquet for the first time.
HIH Princess Kako of Akishino and HIH Princess Nobuko of Mikasa
Remarks by His Majesty the Emperor at the State Banquet in Honour of His Excellency Mr. Benigno Aquino III President of the Republic of the Philippines (June 3, 2015)
Text from Imperial Household Agency
I wish to extend a heartfelt welcome to Your Excellency Mr. Benigno Aquino III, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, on the occasion of your State Visit to Japan. I am truly delighted to be able to spend this evening here with you.
The peoples of the Philippines and Japan enjoyed exchanges with each other through commerce since around the mid-16th century, when a Japan Town was formed in Manila. In the 17th century, however, the Tokugawa shogunate banned Christianity and adopted a policy of national seclusion, forbidding Japanese citizens from traveling overseas and foreign nationals from entering Japan. As a result, the Christian daimyo, or feudal lords, Takayama Ukon and Naito Tadatoshi were exiled to Manila, along with other Japanese Christians, by the Tokugawa shogunate. This year marks the 400th anniversary of Takayama’s death from illness in Manila. In the mid-19th century, Japan ended its policy of national seclusion and started entering into diplomatic relations with other countries. By the beginning of the 20th century, many Japanese people were traveling to the Philippines, and active exchanges were taking place between the peoples of our two countries.
During World War II, however, fierce battles between Japan and the United States took place on Philippine soil, resulting in the loss of many Filipino lives. This is something we Japanese must long remember with a profound sense of remorse. In particular, in this year of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, I offer my deepest condolences to all those who lost their lives then.
Since the postwar resumption of diplomatic relations in 1956 until today, our two countries have worked hand in hand to develop our friendly relations. Today, approximately 18,000 Japanese reside in the Philippines, while over 200,000 Filipinos live in Japan. Some of those people work in welfare facilities in Japan, playing vital roles in our ageing society. On our visits to welfare facilities, the Empress and I have occasionally been introduced to care workers from the Philippines.
The Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers have been active in the Philippines since soon after the program was launched in 1965 and their number has totaled nearly 1,600 to date. It makes me very happy to see that the relations between our two countries have become even closer in recent years in a wide range of areas, including the economy, culture, and people-to-people exchanges.
Fifty-three years ago, when I was the Crown Prince, I visited your country with the then Crown Princess, as a representative of Emperor Showa, to reciprocate the State Visit to Japan by His Excellency President Carlos P. García. The warm welcome we received at the time from President Diosdado Pangan Macapagal and the First Lady, as well as from the people of the Philippines, remains an unforgettable memory for us. It was on that visit that we visited General Emilio Aguinaldo and Mrs. Aguinaldo in Cavite, where we stood with them 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.
Your Excellency’s mother, Mrs. Corazon Aquino, assumed the Presidency in February 1986 and made a State Visit to Japan in November of that year. At the time, I welcomed her as Crown Prince. Your mother also attended the Funeral Ceremony of my father Emperor Showa in February 1989 and the Ceremony of my Accession to the Throne in November 1990, for which I am most grateful.
Your Excellency has visited Japan a number of times since taking office in 2010. In September 2011, Your Excellency visited the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which sustained enormous damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake, and presented the city with a donation towards its reconstruction. We have also received various other forms of support from the Philippines, including emergency supplies and the deployment of medical teams. In June 2014, Your Excellency visited the city of Hiroshima, where you offered flowers at the Cenotaph for Atomic Bomb Victims in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellency for your warm thoughts for Japan.
Ever since assuming office, Your Excellency has listened to the voices of your people with sincerity and worked for the peace and development of your country, dedicating yourself to addressing poverty and various other challenges facing your country. I would like to express my heartfelt respect for all the efforts you are making in that regard. I am also heartened that Your Excellency is paying close attention to further strengthening the relationship between the Philippines and Japan. I truly hope that this visit of Your Excellency will be a fruitful one, contributing to the further development of the mutual understanding and friendly cooperative relations between our two countries.
I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Excellency and to the happiness of the people of the Philippines.