Duterte, Japan’s Emperor in ‘last chance’ official meeting

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President Rodrigo Duterte (right) will be meeting with Japanese Emperor Akihito (left) before the Philippine leader leaves for Manila from Tokyo on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017. Duterte arrived in Tokyo Monday morning for an official visit. AFP FILE PHOTO

TOKYO, Japan — President Duterte’s second visit to Japan is his last chance to officially meet with Emperor Akihito since the latter has already been given the right to abdicate next year, according to Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V.

Mr. Duterte is scheduled to visit the Imperial Palace on Tuesday before returning to Manila.

“You must remember that the Emperor has already been given the right to abdicate. The Emperor is in his mid-80s and he’s getting tired.  And this is the last official chance that the current Emperor could meet with the current President before there is a formal turnover next year,” Laurel said.

Mr. Duterte said that he intended to show his respects to Emperor Akihito before the latter steps down, which was why he was returning to Japan.

“And actually it’s kind of a homage to see the Emperor before he abdicates,” Mr. Duterte said in Davao before departing for Tokyo.

Mr. Duterte, who has a penchant for informality and crude language, also took note of his need to follow the proper protocol during the meeting with the revered Japanese ruler.

“I suppose that I have to limit my mouth there, except maybe to bring the warm greetings of the Filipino nation, a grateful nation to Japan, as a matter of fact,” he said.

The Philippine President’s first scheduled visit to the Imperial Palace last year — which was subsequently canceled because of a death in the Emperor’s family — had drawn concern among the Japanese who are known to follow strict codes of conduct.

This was after Mr. Duterte, during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, was seen chewing gum. This was considered rude in Japanese society.

He was also supposed to return to Japan last June, but the trip was scuttled because of the outbreak of violence in Marawi. The battle between government forces and Islamic State-allied extremists ended after five months. /cbb

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