PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte’s courtesy call on Emperor Akihito did not push through as the Japanese ruler’s 100-year-old uncle Prince Mikasa passed away.
In a chance interview, Duterte said he respects the Japanese imperial family’s time of mourning.
“I’d like to express my deepest condolence,” the President said.
“The protocol officer...[said] huwag na lang akong magpunta doon because they are in mourning. I respect that because I would ask the same, maybe, request if I were in his shoes,” Duterte explained.
Prince Mikasa was the youngest brother of the current emperor’s father Hirohito.
Duterte and Akihito were slated to meet before the President was to conclude his three-day official visit in Japan.
Wrong side up
“An honest mistake,” Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said as he apologized for the blunder during his presentation in Japan which showed an inverted Philippine flag.
An inverted Philippine flag symbolizes that the country is at war
Pinol acknowledged in his Facebook post the mistake in his presentation before Japanese businessmen at a Tokyo hotel Wednesday.
One of the photo slides which showed President Rody Duterte shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe displayed a Philippine flag with the red banner up,” Piñol said.
“The correct display of the Philippine flag should have the blue banner up and the red below it. Displaying the flag with the red banner up actually means that the country is at war,” he added.
Piñol said he received the material for his presentation via email from Manila, explaining that he had little time to prepare as he was not advised earlier about it.
“I actually saw the slide just before I made my presentation and there was no more time to edit the PowerPoint presentation. I apologize for the mistake and assure our countrymen that I had no intention of declaring war against anybody. It was all an honest mistake,” the agriculture chief said.
President Duterte’s signature fist gesture has infected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a photo on Facebook indicated.
Special Assistant to the President Secretary Bong Go posted the photograph on Facebook.
Duterte and Abe first met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos last September.
In their bilateral meeting, Abe told Duterte that he was a “rock star” in Japan before inviting him to Tokyo.
In Tokyo, the two leaders had an expanded bilateral meeting where they reaffirmed their strong ties
In his statement, Duterte described Japan as the Philippines’ “special friend, closer than a brother.”