EMPEROR Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan will pay a state visit to the Philippines in 2016, Malacañang announced on Tuesday.
“We are pleased to announce that the Philippines has started necessary coordination with Japan for a visit of their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, to the Philippines, possibly in early 2016,” Communications Secretary Hermino Coloma Jr. said in a statement.
“This visit responds to President Aquino’s invitation. It will be the first time a reigning Emperor of Japan will be visiting the Philippines, and returns the warm welcome Their Majesties extended to the President when he visited Tokyo earlier this year,” Coloma also said.
Coloma said the Philippines has one of the strongest relations with Japan due to the strategic partnership of the two countries.
“Japan and the [United States] are the only two countries who are strategic partners of the Philippines,” said Coloma.
During the state visit of Aquino to Japan, the royal couple gave an opportunity to the Philippine President and members of his delegation to talk with them.
“During the talks, it showed how the emperor and the empress as well as the Royal Family, had cordial and good vision regarding our country,” said Coloma.
Coloma said the date of the state visit will be subject to a mutual arrangement and that the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Japan Foreign Ministry are coordinating with each other to ensure the schedule.
Last June, President Benigno Aquino III had a four-day state visit to Tokyo to invite investors from the East Asian nation.
In June during the state visit to Japan, Aquino paid a courtesy call on Japan’s imperial couple and received the East Asian nation’s highest honor.
Aquino received Japan’s most prestigious award, the Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum.
In exchange, Aquino conferred the Order of Lakandula with the Rank of Supremo on Emperor Akihito and the Order of Sikatuna with the Rank of Rajah on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.