President Noy’s State Visit to Japan
It was definitely a privilege to have been invited to join the select business delegation of Pres. Noy Aquino’s recent State Visit to Japan. The success of the president’s trip is in no small measure a result of the hard work, focus, and dedication of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, our Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez, DFA USec Laura del Rosario, Trade Secretary Greg Domingo and DTI USec Chito Manalo.
The state visit made it apparently clear that the relations between Japan and the Philippines have become stronger and warmer over the years. No one would have imagined that the erstwhile enemies during the Second World War would become close allies, even conducting joint naval training exercises for the first time at the West Philippine Sea with over 600 Japanese personnel participating.
The state visit was also the second time that President Aquino met Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace since he assumed the presidency.
Unfortunately, the inclement weather kept some of us in the delegation—who were invited to join the historical meeting —from taking part in the official State Welcome Ceremony. Yet fate still managed to smile upon us because we were asked to join President Aquino when he visited the Japanese Diet where he delivered a keynote address on the bilateral relations between the two countries and our mutual security concerns—for which he was given a standing ovation by members of Parliament.
The economic briefing conducted by the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group at Hotel Okura was a great opportunity for businessmen from both countries to explore potential investments. The same goes for the 21st Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia held at the same hotel with President Aquino as guest speaker and the networking lunches with various business groups.
Modesty aside, I have had the privilege of joining official or state visits to several countries during the presidencies of Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo—and I have to admit that each experience is always different. Each one carries with it unique memories, special anecdotes and of course, notable accomplishments.
Yet one thing remains constant: Every time you pin the Philippine flag on your lapel to showcase your country and the best it has to offer the whole world, you become part of history—if not a catalyst of history.