A Japanese group gave away bookmarks containing Emperor Akihito’s waka or poem to hundreds of well-wishers who went out and greeted the imperial couple during their stops at Suicide Cliff, Man’amko Center, Last Command Post, and along Middle Road yesterday.
The poem, written in Kanji and Hiragana, read “Living in the time, with no war, I remember the people who lived in the hardship at war time.”
Nippon Kaigi, also known as the Japan Conference, translated the poem of the emperor into English and distributed the bookmarks to community members who joined the visiting Japanese group in enthusiastically greeting the imperial couple.
The group sent 41 members from Tokyo to the CNMI to give support to Akihito and Michiko, who were on Saipan for a two-day visit to pray and honor those who died during World War II.
The island was the site of fierce battles during the second World War and is regarded by some as the Normandy of the Pacific theater.
Nippon Kaigi members were scattered along the sides of the roads where the imperial couple’s convoy passed through. Group member Eiko Araki said they were very glad that the Saipan community was very warm and respectful in greeting them.
The group, she said, was distributing flyers that invited everyone to welcome the emperor. They earlier also promised to give a sample of the emperor’s poem and Japanese flag when they join the parade, which they fulfilled.
Araki said that the royal couple acknowledged their presence on Saipan when the empress waved and smiled at them when they were at the Hotel Nikko Saipan, where the imperial couple stayed. She said the entire group was happy to know that Akihito and Michiko recognized them.
Nippon Kaigi also went to the Man’amko Center, where members queued along Middle Road in front of the CNMI Museum of History and Culture, waving both American and Japanese flags.
At 4:40pm the imperial couple’s convoy drove along Kopa Di Oru St., coming from the Aging Center, cutting toward Middle Road heading up to the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport. The imperial couple smiled and waved from inside as the limousine slowly sped away, passing a hundred or so well-wishers who lined up along the road.
The Nippon Kaigi group is set to go back to Japan today. Kazuhiro Yoshida, another member of the group, earlier said Nippon Kaigi is a think tank-oriented NGO that has 47 branch offices in each prefecture all over Japan.
He said it is the mission of Japan Conference to study fundamental issues like the Constitution, education, diplomacy, and defense, and to propose relevant policies to the Japanese government in cooperation with the Liberal Democratic Party.