MANILA (UPDATED) - President Rodrigo Duterte finally met Japanese Emperor Akihito and wife Empress Michiko on Tuesday, a year after their first meeting was set.
In a video uploaded on the Presidential Communications’ Facebook page, Duterte and his partner Honeylet Avanceña are seen being welcomed by the Japanese imperial couple at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
The brief footage showed Duterte talking to Emperor Akihito and Avanceña talking to Empress Michiko, both assisted by interpreters.
The President visited Japan in October last year, where he was scheduled to meet with the Japanese emperor. But the meeting did not push through after the emperor’s brother, Prince Mikasa, passed away.
Another meeting between Duterte and the emperor had also been attempted in June this year, but the President’s supposed second trip to Japan did not push through because of the Marawi crisis.
Coming back from Japan to his home city Davao on Tuesday evening, the President praised the simplicity of the Japanese imperial couple.
“I have been to many places and palaces of great leaders and people. This is the first time na nakita ko pinaka-simpleng palasyo,” Duterte said in a news conference upon his arrival from Japan.
“Trees surround the Palace, but it is just a small place. And even his --- ‘yung sala niya, the receiving room, wala kang makitang picture. It’s really a bland thing actually. And he lives very simply,” he added.
The President also noted that the emperor did not discuss anything political with him.
“The Emperor limits himself to social functions. We do not talk about policy of governments and even in matters of governmental concern on both sides,” he said.
Akihiro, Japan’s 125th emperor, is set to be replaced by Crown Prince Naruhito after the Japanese Cabinet approved a bill allowing him to abdicate.
The Japanese emperor, 83, had expressed fear that his age might make it hard for him to fulfill his duties.
Duterte’s 2-day official visit to Japan aimed at further improving the thriving relations between Manila and Tokyo under Duterte and Abe, who recently won the Japanese elections.
The official visit also saw Filipino business leaders striking $6 billion worth of deals with Japanese firms and Abe reaffirming Tokyo’s earlier pledge to provide the Philippines with at least 1 trillion in financial assistance in the next five years.