Emperor Akihito is making the first visit by a Japanese emperor since World War II to the Philippines, which suffered under Japan’s harsh military occupation during the war but now relies on Tokyo as an ally, trading partner and source of aid and investment.
Akihito was apprehensive when he first visited the Philippines as crown prince in 1962, fearing anti-Japanese feelings were still strong, but his anxiety vanished in the smiles of the Philippine president and Filipinos who welcomed him, according to the emperor’s press secretary, Hatsuhisa Takashima.
A selection of Filipinos’ views on Akihito’s visit:
“I think if the Japanese are offering an apology for what they did, it is better to be friends because we can no longer bring back the past. I am happy about what the emperor said because they have accepted their mistake, but maybe they should help the remaining victims of the war to ease their pain.” — Joel Abedo, 51, security guard.