The Malacañang has sent a “melancholic” message of friendship to Japanese Emperor Akihito, who is abdicating after three decades.
Today (Tuesday, April 30), presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said the Palace was “melancholic” but respected the emperor’s decision to step down from his throne and to relinquish it to his son, Crown Prince Naruhito.
“The Palace feels melancholic about the abdication of Japanese Emperor Akihito, who is considered a good friend of the Philippines,” Panelo said in a statement.
“But he has made a decision and we can only respect it and wish him well with whatever awaits him after he leaves the throne.”
Panelo expressed confidence that Crown Prince Naruhito’s assumption would augur well for Philippine-Japanese relations.
He also noted that Japan’s nine billion dollar investment and aid package for the Philippines, spread over five years, was the largest amount the Japanese government had committed for a single country.
He was also hopeful that ties between the Philippines and Japan would remain strong under the reign of Crown Prince Naruhito.
“We hope to build the ‘golden age’ for Philippines-Japan strategic partnership during the reign of the new Emperor. As PRRD [President Duterte] himself said, Japan is our friend, closer even than a brother,” he added.
Meanwhile, Panelo recalled the time Emperor Akihito, together with his wife, Empress Michiko, visited the Philippines in 2016 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the normalisation of Philippine-Japanese diplomatic relations.
He also recalled the time that President Duterte was humbled by meeting His Majesty at the Imperial Palace two years ago.
Reports showed that Emperor Akihito’s decision to end his reign stemmed from concerns about his age, declining health, and his desire to abdicate while he is still well and capable.
Prince Naruhito, aged 59, who ascends the throne tomorrow (Wednesday, May 1), is the elder of Emperor Akihito’s two sons.
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