President Benigno S. Aquino III expressed his gratitude to Japan's Emperor Akihito as the Chief Executive hosted a state banquet in honor of the emperor and his wife, Empress Michiko, in Malacañang Palace on Wednesday evening.
In his toast, President Aquino recalled how the Philippines and Japan overcame challenges “during the dark episodes in the history of our nations”.
"It is, however, upon this history that we have built a far more enduring relationship. Japan has been a consistent, able, and trustworthy partner, who has helped advance our people’s progress," he said.
Citing examples, he said that in 2014, Japan was the Philippines' top trading partner, and was the top source of the country’s active Official Development Assistance and Investment Promotion Agency-approved foreign investments.
Japan has likewise been “a vital partner in our peace process and the development of Mindanao”, as well as in the enhancement of the Philippines’ maritime and disaster management capabilities, he said.
"You have also been a staunch ally in advancing the rule of law in our region. For all this, and many more, I, on behalf of my countrymen, say: Domo arigato gozaimasu,” said President Aquino.
According to the President, it was his fourth time to meet Their Majesties, first when he accompanied his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino, on her visit to Japan in 1986, and the others were during his visits to Japan as President.
"In all my encounters with Your Majesties, I have always admired the simplicity, sincerity, and grace you demonstrate," he said.
The five-day state visit of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko comes at an auspicious time as the Philippines and Japan celebrate their 60th year of diplomatic relations. (PCOO News Release)