Akihito to visit war memorials

SHORTLY after saying Japan should remember its bitter lessons from World War II, Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko will visit memorial sites for Filipino and Japanese war dead during their official visit starting Jan. 26, Japanese media reported Saturday.

According to the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun, the imperial couple will offer flowers at the Libingan ng mga Bayani [National Heroes Cemetery] in Taguig City and at the Japanese Memorial Garden in Laguna where many of the 520,000 Japanese fatalities of the Second World War are buried.

Japanese Emperor Akihito (Photo by AFP)
It will be the first time a reigning Japanese monarch will visit the country to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations and pay tribute to both Filipino and Japanese soldiers who died in the war.

Akihito had already mentioned the loss of Filipino lives during a banquet for President Benigno Aquino III during his visit to Japan in June, saying: “This is something we Japanese must long remember with a profound sense of remorse.” 

Akihito again reiterated on his 82nd birthday last Dec. 23 that Japan should remember its bitter lessons from World War II.

“The number of those who don’t know about the war is increasing year by year,” the emperor said in an interview with Japanese media on his birthday. “But I think for the sake of the future of Japan, it is extremely important to be fully aware of the war and deepen our thought.” 

The emperor’s thoughts were also echoed by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as he promised on New Year’s Day he will keep his nation out of war following the introduction of contentious new security legislation.

“Under the new legislation for peace and security, we will prevent war by taking all possible preparations for any circumstances,” Abe said in a New Year’s message.

“We have successfully built a foundation for handing down a peaceful Japan to the generations of our children and grandchildren.”

In September, the Japanese parliament passed security bills opening the door for Japanese troops to engage in combat overseas for the first time since the end of World War II.

The legislation was met with strong public resistance at home with tens of thousands taking part in street protests, while also fueling anger in China and on the Korean peninsula.

During the five-day official visit, Akihito and Michiko will also meet with representatives of the Japanese-Filipino community, descendants of Japanese who moved to the Southeast Asian country from the early 20th century as well as those born of Filipino migrant workers in Japan.

The itinerary has been arranged in consideration of the aging Imperial couple, with official events set for the second day and no plans for the final day. The schedule will be reported to the Cabinet early this month.

Topics: Akihito , Japan , war memorials
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