Philippine Embassy - Tokyo, Japan > Tokyo Memorial to President Quirino Unveiled

Tokyo Memorial to President Quirino Unveiled

Tokyo, Japan – A memorial to Philippine President Elpidio Quirino was unveiled in Tokyo’s prestigious Hibiya Park last June 18, in the presence of ranking Philippine and Japanese officials, as well as representatives of the Quirino family and various organizations.
The memorial, the first in Japan in honor of a former Philippine Head of State, pays homage to the President Quirino’s role in paving the way for the normalization of post-war Philippine-Japan relations, in particular his momentous decision in 1953 to grant executive clemency to all 105 convicted Japanese war criminals then serving sentence in Muntinlupa prison.

The Presidential clemency defied expectations and the prevailing anti-Japanese sentiment at that time. President Quirino suffered devastating personal loss during the war, with his wife and three children being felled by Japanese bullets as they fled their home during the 1945 Battle of Manila. President Quirino’s grant of executive clemency was also seen as an act of conviction and courage, coming a mere eight years after the war’s end, with Filipino resentment and anger against the Japanese remaining deep-seated.

Guests of honor beside the newly-unveiled memorial: (L-R) Ambassador Katsura, former Senator Angara, Ambassador and Mrs. Lopez, Councillor Kosaka, LDP VP Komura, Mrs. Gonzalez-Meyer, Senate President and Mrs. Drilon, Atty. Aleli Quirino, Ms. Cory Quirino, Rep. Taku Otsuka, Rep. Hideo Onishi, Mrs. Angara.

The ceremony was graced by around 130 guests, including Japanese lawmakers headed by Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Vice President Masahiko Komura and Japan-Philippines Parliamentarians’ Friendship League Chair Kenji Kosaka, and Parliamentary Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Miki Yamada. The Philippines, meanwhile, was represented by Senate President Franklin M. Drilon, former Senator Edgardo J. Angara, and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez. A delegation of descendants of the late President and officers of the President Elpidio Quirino Foundation (PEQF) also flew into Tokyo specially for the event, headed by granddaughters Ms. Ruby Quirino Gonzalez-Meyer and Ms. Cory Quirino, and niece Atty. Aleli G. Quirino.

LDP Vice President Komura and Senate President Franklin Drilon laud President Quirino’s contributions.

In remarks delivered during the unveiling rites, LDP Vice President Komura, the driving force behind the project, recalled being moved by Filipino statesman’s “merciful nobleness and generosity to ‘forgive the unforgivable’” when he visited Manila to accompany H.M. Emperor Akihito and H.M. Empress Michiko last January. He said the memorial would ensure that “the Japanese people will never forget that historic act and the debt of gratitude we owe.”

Senate President Drilon, for his part, memorialized President Quirino as “an extraordinary leader who first sowed the seeds of friendship, goodwill, compassion and forgiveness.”

Ambassador Lopez, Councillor Kosaka, and Parliamentary Foreign Vice Minister Yamada honor the Philippine President’s act of magnanimity.

Citing the excellent state of Philippine-Japan relations on the ongoing celebration of 60 years of normalized ties, Ambassador Lopez said the close bilateral friendship confirms President Quirino’s words before visiting Japanese in 1953 that “when friendship is formed, the effect is even greater than a formal treaty.”

The Quirino memorial stands proudly against a backdrop of Tokyo high-rises.

The Quirino memorial is located on the grounds of the Hibiya Public Hall, the venue of an equally historic 1953 “Appreciation Event” in honor of President Quirino’s act of magnanimity. With its unveiling, President Quirino becomes the second Filipino to be honored with a memorial on Hibiya Park’s grounds, the other being Dr. José Rizal whose memorial was erected on the centenary of his birth on June 19, 1961.

The construction and installation of the marker 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 support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, and the Embassy of the Philippines in Tokyo.

Elpidio Quirino (1890-1956) was President of the Philippines from 1948 to 1953. END


Reference: Inscriptions on the Quirino Memorial

Statement of President QUIRINO

Baltimore, U.S.A., July 6,1953.

“I have extended executive clemency to Japanese war prisoners serving terms in the Philippines not as an amnesty which requires concurrence of the Philippine Congress.

“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 am doing this because 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.

“I am happy to have been able to make this spontaneous decision as the head of a Christian nation. 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.”

(DEDICATION INSCRIBED ON THE QUIRINO MEMORIAL)

“His Excellency ELPIDIO QUIRINO (1890-1956), President of the Republic of the Philippines (1948-1953), granted pardon in June 1953 to all of the 105 Japanese War Criminals who were detained in Muntinlupa prison, despite the loss of his own wife and children during World War Ⅱ. The National Appreciation Event was held at this site in gratitude for his decision, in July 1953.

“On the 60th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-Philippines diplomatic relations, and in this same year of the State Visit of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress to the Philippines, this monument is erected at this site as a testament to the Japanese people’s appreciation and respect for President Quirino, and as a renewal of their commitment to the friendship between Japan and the Philippines, and to World Peace.”

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