Tokyo, 16 November 2017
TOKYO – The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo commemorated today the 127th birth anniversary of President Elpidio Quirino (1890-1956) with a floral offering at the latter’s memorial in Tokyo’s historic Hibiya Park.
Chargé d’affaires, a.i., Eduardo Martin R. Meñez led officials of the Embassy in paying tribute to the country’s sixth President, who served a first term in 1948-1949 after the sudden demise of Pres. Manual Roxas, and then served out a full four-year term in 1949-1953.
Following the floral offering, Political Assistant Mahabsar Lucman led the Embassy in recalling the life of President Quirino. Minister Josel F. Ignacio then shared some thoughts on the legacy and impact of the late President’s act to the normalization of Philippine-Japan relations in 1956, and the cultivation of close bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two nations over the succeeding decades. Note was also taken of President Quirino’s contribution to laying a lasting foundation for robust Philippine ties with another Northeast Asian partner, South Korea, through his dispatch of the Philippine Expeditionary Force to Korea (PEFTOK) that joined the UN Command during the Korean War.
The Quirino memorial recognizes President Quirino’s contribution to the normalization of post-war Philippine-Japan relations, in particular his grant of executive clemency in June 1953 to 105 convicted Japanese war criminals serving sentence in Muntinlupa prison. It stands on the grounds of the Hibiya Public Hall, the same building where a “National Appreciation Ceremony” was held by the Government of Japan in July 1953.
The marble marker was unveiled in June 18 last year in the presence of Philippine and Japanese government officials, as well as the descendants of the late President, as the Philippines and Japan were marking 60 years of normalized relations.
The construction of the memorial was supported by the Japan-Philippines Parliamentarians’ Friendship League (JPPFL), the Philippine Society of Japan (PSJ), the Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee (JPECC), the Kano Public Interest Incorporated Foundation in Shimane Prefecture and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan (PCCIJ), with the cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Embassy of the Philippines in Tokyo. The marker has since been turned over to the Embassy and is now Philippine Government property.
President Quirino’s thoughts on his decision to grant executive clemency to the Japanese are preserved on the marker: “I should be the last one to pardon them as the Japanese killed my wife and three children and five other members of the family… I do not want my children and my people to inherit from me hate for people who might yet be our friends for the permanent interest of the country. After all, destiny has made us neighbors…My fervent hope is that the benevolent feeling which has inspired me will strike a responsive chord in others as an act of faith to humanity. Love of fellow creatures will always be the supreme law among men and nations and the basis of world peace.”
Impetus for the construction of the memorial arose from the January 2016 State Visit to the Philippines by Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, both of whom had the occasion to meet President Quirino’s descendants and recall this signal event in the post-war history of Philippine-Japan relations. Soon after, the Honorable Masahiko Komura, Member of the House of Representatives and Vice President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) of Japan who accompanied Their Majesties to the Philippines, initiated the Memorial project and became the driving force behind its early completion, less than six months later. END
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See also: Tokyo Memorial to President Quirino Unveiled, http://tokyo.philembassy.net/02events/tokyo-memorial-to-president-quirino-unveiled/