Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday, as they embarked on a four-day visit to the Southeast Asian country. The Japanese royals, who touched down in Manila at Ninoy Aquino International Airport, were greeted by Philippine President Benigno Aquino and other government officials on the tarmac as they dismounted the plane.
Before the royals left to begin their visit, they were given a royal send off by their sons and other family members. Crown Prince Naruhito was joined by his brother Prince Akishino and their wives, Crown Princess Masako and Princess Kiko to wave goodbye to the pair, as they left for their first ever official visit to the country.
The couple were waved off by their family, as they left Tokyo Photo: Getty Images
The invitation for the Emperor and his wife to visit the country comes after the Philippine president visited Tokyo in June last year. This year, the two countries are marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations after World War II came to an end.
Before departing Tokyo, the 82-year-old head of state said of the visit, which will include paying tribute to those killed during WW II: “Many Filipinos, American and Japanese lost their lives in the Philippines during the war. Especially in the battle in Manila, a tremendously large number of innocent Filipino civilians were victims. Upon making this visit, we need to bear this is mind at all times.”
The couple were greeted at Manila airport by the president of the Philippines Photo: Getty Images
On Wednesday morning the couple were met by a welcoming ceremony at Malacañang Palace, before visiting a cemetery for Filipino war victims to lay flowers in the afternoon. On Thursday they will meet with people of Japanese descent who live on the Philippine islands.
During their final day, Friday, they will travel by helicopter to Caliraya, to lay flowers at a monument installed by the Japanese government to pay tribute to those that died in WWII. The Emperor and Empress will return to Tokyo the next day.