This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, which brought fierce fighting to various parts of the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the loss of countless lives. Our thoughts go out to all those who went to the battlefields to defend their countries, never to return home.
In this milestone year, reflecting upon those many people who fell in battle, we will visit the Republic of Palau.
The Republic of Palau, along with the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, was a German colony up through World War I. After that war, the Treaty of Versailles and the decision of the League of Nations placed those territories under the mandate of Japan. Palau became the site of Japan's South Seas Agency, and many people emigrated there from Japan. By around 1935, more than 50,000 Japanese nationals - a number greater than the native population - had come to live on those islands.
In 1944, the year before the end of the war, fierce battles took place in the region, and Japanese forces fought to their deaths on many islands. The island of Peleliu, which we will visit on this trip, was one of those islands. Some 10,000 Japanese soldiers and 1,700 American soldiers lost their lives there. We believe that we must never forget that those beautiful islands in the Pacific Ocean have such a tragic history.
It is our sincere hope that our visit to the Republic of Palau will contribute to the further development of the friendly cooperative relations that our nations have forged so far. While we are there, we will mourn and pay tribute to both the Japanese and Americans who perished in the region. At the same time, taking this opportunity, we wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to His Excellency the President and all the people of Palau, for, although they suffered the ravages of war themselves, the people of Palau worked hard after the war to care for the memorial cenotaphs and cemeteries and to collect the remains of the fallen.
We are deeply grateful that during our stay there, Their Excellencies the Presidents and First Ladies of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will also visit the Republic of Palau, joining His Excellency the President and the First Lady of the Republic of Palau on our trip to Peleliu.
Finally, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to all those who worked so hard to make this visit possible.
It is deeply moving for the Empress and myself to be visiting the Republic of Palau in this milestone year, the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, and I would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellency President Tommy E. Remengesau Jr. for the invitation. I would also like to thank Your Excellency for hosting this banquet for us this evening, and for your most gracious words of welcome. I also wish to take this opportunity to say how happy we are that His Excellency President Emanuel Mori and the First Lady of the Federated States of Micronesia and His Excellency President Christopher J. Loeak and the First Lady of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are also visiting the Republic of Palau at this time to spend today and tomorrow with us. We are truly grateful to them.
Just before our visit, we learned of the damages caused by Typhoon Maysak, which had hit the Federated States of Micronesia. We are here to mourn the victims, offer our condolences to the bereaved families, and to express our heartfelt sympathies to those many people who were affected. It is our sincere hope that the region will make an earliest possible recovery from the disaster.
After World War I, the Micronesian region was placed under the mandate of Japan by the League of Nations. Palau became the site of Japan's South Seas Agency, and many people emigrated here from Japan. I am told that those people got to know the people of Palau well and they worked together to contribute to the development of the region. There are many people with Japanese names playing active roles in your country, including former President Kunio Nakamura, which is a testimony to the long history of exchange between our two countries, making us feel a sense of closeness.
During World War II, however, fierce battles between the United States and Japan took place in this region, including the present Republic of Palau, resulting in the loss of countless lives. It is said that the Japanese military were concerned for the safety of the people of Palau, trying to get them to evacuate to a safe place. But it is truly painful that there were islander casualties due to air raids, food shortages and plagues. We are here in Palau to mourn and pay tribute to all those who lost their lives in World War II and reflect on the hardships suffered by the bereaved families.
We wish to take this opportunity to offer our heartfelt thanks to the people of the region who, although they suffered the ravages of war themselves, worked hard after the war to care for the memorial cenotaphs and cemeteries and to collect the remains of the fallen.
More than 20 years have passed since Japan established diplomatic relations with the three countries of Micronesia. It gives me great pleasure to see that our relationship is deepening in the field of fisheries and tourism, in particular. It is my hope that Japan's exchanges with each country will further flourish in the future.
I would now like to raise my glass in a toast to many years of good health for Your Excellency President Remengesau and the First Lady of the Republic of Palau, His Excellency President Mori and the First Lady of the Federated States of Micronesia, and His Excellency President Loeak and the First Lady of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and to the happiness of the people of the three countries.