I will be visiting the Philippines together with the Empress at the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Benigno S. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines.
In 1962 we visited the Philippines as a representative of Emperor Showa to reciprocate the State Visit to Japan by His Excellency President Carlos P. García. Today, after 54 years, we feel happy and moved to think that once again we have the opportunity to visit the Philippines on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between our two countries.
During World War II, countless Filipino, American, and Japanese lives were lost in the Philippines. A great many innocent Filipino civilians became casualties of the fierce battles fought in the city of Manila. This history will always be in our hearts as we make this visit to the Philippines.
Towards the end of our trip, we will visit Caliraya on the eastern part of the island of Luzon, and pay our respects at the monument dedicated to the souls of the Japanese war dead in many parts of the Philippines.
It is our sincere hope that this visit to the Philippines will contribute to the further development of mutual understanding and friendly relations between our two countries.
Lastly, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to the Prime Minister and the many people who worked so hard to make this visit possible.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between the Republic of the Philippines and Japan, it is a great pleasure for the Empress and I to be visiting the Philippines again at the invitation of His Excellency President Benigno S. Aquino III. I would like to express our profound gratitude to Your Excellency for hosting this banquet for us this evening, and for your most gracious words of welcome.
Our first trip to the Philippines was 54 years ago in November 1962 as a representative of Emperor Showa, to reciprocate the State Visit by His Excellency President Carlos P. García and the First Lady in December 1958. To this day, the memory of the warm smiles we received from His Excellency President Diosdado Pangan Macapagal and the First Lady as they stood by our plane when we arrived at Manila Airport and the warm welcome we received from the people of the Philippines remain deep in our hearts. 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 by the General in 1898, and this still remains an unforgettable memory for us.
The peoples of the Philippines and Japan enjoyed exchanges with each other through commerce since the mid-16th century, when a Japan Town was formed in Manila. In the 17th century, however, the Tokugawa shogunate, which was administering Japan at the time, adopted a policy of national seclusion, forbidding Japanese citizens from traveling overseas and foreign nationals from entering Japan. This marked an end to exchanges between our countries. It would not be until the mid-19th century when Japan ended its policy of national seclusion and started entering into diplomatic relations with other countries that the exchanges between our two countries resumed.
During that time, the Philippines was still under Spanish control, but the people of the Philippines were pursuing independence to free themselves from the rule, heedless of the danger to themselves. One of the foremost activists was Dr. José Rizal, who pressed for independence not with the force of arms but with his writings. Dr. Rizal spent a month and a half in Japan, deepening his understanding of our country and leaving behind his writings in which he envisioned that our two countries would one day engage in a full-fledged relationship. In addition to being a national hero in the Philippines, Dr. Rizal was a pioneer in forging friendly ties between the Philippines and Japan.
Last year Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. During this war, fierce battles between Japan and the United States took place on Philippine soil, resulting in the loss of many Filipino lives and leaving many Filipinos injured. This is something we Japanese must never forget and we intend to keep this engraved in our hearts throughout our visit.
Your Excellency, under your sagacious and distinguished leadership, the Philippines is achieving steady development as a vital member of the Asian community. It was a great privilege to welcome you to Japan as a State Guest in the early summer last year, and the Empress and I have many pleasant memories of your visit.
It is our deepest hope that our visit will contribute to deepen the mutual understanding and friendly relations between the peoples of our two countries.
I would now like to propose a toast to the good health of Your Excellency and Mrs. Aurora Corazon Aquino-Abellada, and to the happiness of the people of the Philippines.