Emperor Akihito of Japan praised President Aquino's leadership resulting in the Philippines' steady development as an active member of the Asian community.
"Your Excellency, under your sagacious and distinguished leadership, the Philippines is achieving steady development as a vital member of the Asian community," Emperor Akihito said in his speech during the state banquet hosted in his honor in Malacanang on Wednesday.
"It was a great privilege to welcome you to Japan as a state guest in the early summer last year, and the Empress and I have many pleasant memories of your visit."
The visiting emperor said he hopes his visit to the Philippines will deepen the mutual understanding and friendly relations between the people of Japan and the Philippines.
As both countries observe the 60th anniversary of the normalization of Philippine-Japan diplomatic relations, Emperor Akihito expressed his gratitude to the President for hosting the state banquet Wednesday evening.
The emperor recalled his first visit to the Philippines 54 years ago, being warmly welcomed by president Diosdado Macapagal and the first lady as they arrived.
Also during his 1962 visit, he said he met with former president Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite, and remembered standing in the balcony from which Philippine independence was declared in 1898 with the Filipino leader.
He also mentioned, the country's national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, as a pioneer in forging strong ties between Japan and the Philippines.
While fighting for Philippine independence from Spain, Rizal stayed in Japan for one and a half month, deepening his understanding of the country, and even wrote about full-fledged relationship between Japan and the Philippines.
Last year, Japan marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II, he said acknowledging the fierce fighting between American and Japanese forces in Philippine soil resulting in thousands of casualties.
"This is something we Japanese must never forget and we intend to engrave in our hearts throughout our visit," he said.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday for a five-day state visit. (PCOO News Release)