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Duterte-Akihito meeting cancelled

YOKOHAMA CITY, Japan – President Duterte was unable to meet Emperor Akihito of Japan at the Imperial Palace on Thursday following a death in the royal family.

The President extended his condolences to the royal family and announced the decision to forgo a planned state call on the Emperor.

The Emperor’s uncle, Prince Mikasa, died at a Tokyo hospital on Thursday. He was 100.

“I’d like to express my deepest condolence,” the President said in a chance media interview during a visit at the Japanese Coast Guard regional headquarters in Yokohama.

“The protocol officer has advised not to push through with the visit because they are in mourning. I would respect that and I would ask for the same if I were in his shoes,” he added. The President was originally scheduled to pay a state call on the Japanese Emperor at 5 p.m. Thursday before flying back to the country.

The 100-year-old uncle of Japanese Emperor Akihito, Prince Mikasa, died on Thursday, leaving only four heirs to the Chrysanthemum throne, the Imperial Household Agency said.

Mikasa’s death coincides with renewed attention to the future of the ageing and shrinking imperial family and whether women should be allowed to inherit the throne, breaking a males-only succession tradition that conservatives say is central to an imperial tradition stretching back 2,600 years.

Mikasa was the youngest brother of the current emperor’s father, Hirohito, in whose name Japan fought World War Two.

The prince, a scholar of ancient Oriental history, taught at colleges, and served as honorary president of the Middle Eastern Culture Centre in Japan and the Japan-Turkey Society. (Genalyn D. Kabiling and Reuters)