CALIRAYA, Laguna — Visiting Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko paid their respects to Japanese casualties of World War II at the Japanese Memorial Garden here on Friday.
The 82-year-old emperor and his 81-year-old wife arrived at the memorial park, built by the Japanese government in the 1970s, at 11:45 a.m.
Upon arrival, they offered flowers and a mournful bow at the monument dedicated to Japanese soldiers who died during the Second World War.
Despite a slight drizzle, Their Majesties patiently talked to some 125 families of the fallen Japanese troops who attended the event.
The families appeared relieved as they spoke with the royal couple, who seemed to show deep sorrow and remorse for the suffering caused by the war.
Among those present were two World War II survivors — Minoru Matsumoto and Yoshikazu Morita.
Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa was also present, leading the Japanese delegation.
The solemn event lasted about 30 minutes.
From Caliraya, the Imperial couple proceeded to Los Baños to visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
Their tour at IRRI will cap their five-day official visit to the Philippines. They are scheduled to return to Japan on Saturday morning.
President Benigno S. Aquino III is expected to lead the send-off for Their Majesties.
The two arrived last Tuesday to mark the 60th anniversary of Philippine-Japanese diplomatic relations, as well as honor Japanese and non-Japanese soldiers who died during the war.
Last Wednesday, they led a wreath-laying ceremony at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) in Taguig, built in 1947 to honor Filipino soldiers who died during the war.
This is the second visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko to the country. The first was in 1962 when they were still Crown Prince and Crown Princess. PNA/northboundasia.com