TOKYO - On the parliament's podium where his mother once stood as the leader of a new democracy 29 years ago, President Aquino received rousing applause and a standing ovation as he spoke to a nation that has become an enduring ally despite a shared past once torn by war.
Aquino brought the Philippine flag to the Assembly Hall of Japan's National Diet in an address before its joint session Wednesday afternoon, reiterating the late President Corazon Aquino's message of friendship to the Japanese people when she made a similar address in November 1986.
It is a rare honour for a visiting head of state to be invited to speak before the Diet, Japan's "highest organ of state power."
The President, who accompanied his mother during her state visit soon after the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, expressed the same positive outlook that the late democracy icon had conveyed to the Japanese parliament.
"In 1986, I accompanied my mother on her own visit to this beautiful country. She said back then: 'Both of us … look to a future together with hope and expectation. There is a lot we can do together.' I reiterate that optimism today," said Aquino.
"Truly, there is much to look forward to, as our continued positive engagement provides anchorage for stability, prosperity and inclusiveness in the region. I look forward to the fruition of a relationship that is now at the threshold of reaching even greater heights," he said.
Members of the parliament, with Prime Minister Abe in the front row, expressed their appreciation for the message with a standing ovation and extended applause as soon as the President finished.
A near full house of legislators present at the 480-seat bicameral session listened intently to the Philippine leader through simultaneous interpretation in their ear pieces, mostly silent through the 20-minute remarks.