The Diplomatic Corps of Davao, politicians, and leaders from the various sectors of the Davao community, Japanese businessmen based in Davao and representatives from various Japanese companies, plus officers, teachers, and students of the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School came in full force to celebrate the Birthday of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito in a special event hosted by the Japanese Consul General in Davao Yoshiaki Miwa last Feb. 18 at the Grand Ballroom of the Marco Polo Davao.
It was truly a well-attended event to pay respect to His Majesty Emperor Naruhito of Japan who formally ascended to the Imperial Throne on May 1, 2019. Emperor Naruhito’s reign marks the start of the Reiwa (Beautiful Harmony) Era. The Reiwa Era “embodies the idea of people coming together to foster culture, and symbolizes the hope of the Japanese people for the future.”
Emperor Naruhito is the 126th monarch in Japan’s traditional order of succession. Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement ceremony took place in Tokyo on October 22, 2019, with the attendance of more than 3,000 official guests which included more than 120 heads of state and government along with high profile delegates from more than 200 countries and organizations which included Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai President Ines Y. Mallari.
His Majesty Emperor Naruhito was born on February 23, 1960, at the Imperial Palace of Tokyo, Japan. He is the eldest son of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and the grandson of the late Emperor Hirohito. Emperor Naruhito studied at the exclusive Gakushuin University and graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. He also studied at the Merton College, one of the constituent colleges of Oxford University, in England, and made history as the first heir to the throne to study abroad.
Emperor Naruhito married Masako Owada, a diplomat with the Japanese Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in June 1993. I was then a student at the University of Tokyo as a Japanese Government Scholar; and the royal love story of the then Crown Prince and the reluctant bright and beautiful commoner was highly publicized which we, foreign students, also followed with much interest just as much as the Japanese citizens did. The couple has one child, Princess Aiko, who was born in 2001.
In his message during the reception which was emceed by the ever-reliable Winston Mallari, Japanese Consul General Yoshiaki Miwa told the guests: “Tonight’s occasion is extraordinary for two reasons. Primarily, this is the first National Day reception under the new Reiwa Era. Secondly, this is also the first important event hosted by our office after it was upgraded into a full-fledged Consulate General of Japan in Davao since last year. The upgrade of our office last January 1, 2019, which was attended by our Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, shows the firm commitment of Japan in further deepening relations between our countries, particularly Davao and Mindanao.”
Consul General Miwa also took the time to enumerate projects under the “field of cooperation” between Japan and Davao like the Maritime Pollution Exercise with the participation of coast guards from the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia; responsible and efficient waste management under the framework of the Green Sister City Agreement between Davao City and Kita-Kyushu City; the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Davao Japanese community focusing on business, tourism, food, and culture; among others still.
In response, the message of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, which was read by lawyer Antoinette Principe-Castrodes, reiterated, “Davao City has a long and storied connection with Japan. This relationship is evident through our rich Japanese heritage, in the cultural landmarks, and in the assistance programs given to us by Japanese organizations which we are genuinely thankful for…Words cannot truly express how we in Davao City appreciate the endeavors of Japan for the progress of Davaoeños. The people of Davao have nothing but well wishes for his Majesty Emperor Naruhito’s good health, lasting joy, and long life.”
For entertainment, Machida Takakazu and the Cantapella of the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School played beautiful music for the audience that night. Also displayed at the ballroom was a collection of praiseworthy bonsai trees cultivated with such passion by the members of the Davao Bonsai Society.
During the cocktails, Marco Polo Davao Exec. Chef Alex Destriza served various sushi using Japanese rice which went well with the Japanese sake served at the bar. I had a fun night conversing and taking pictures with Consul General Li Lin of China and Indonesian Consul General Dicky Fabrian along with the Honorary Consuls of Bangladesh (Joji Ilagan-Bian), Spain (Natividad Rodriguez-Fortich), Denmark (Rowena Vida-Lisbona), Austria (Peter Faistauer), Germany (Klaus Doring), and Hungary (Mary Ann Maceda-Montemayor).
Long live, Emperor Naruhito of Japan.