Hip pain forces Duterte to cut short Japan trip

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    PRESIDENT Duterte yesterday cut short his official visit to Japan and left shortly after attending ceremonies for the enthronement of Japanese Emperor Naruhito in Tokyo.

    The President went live on social media last night, and said the reason for his early return is his back pain which resulted from his recent motorcycle accident.

    He went live on the Facebook page of Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, his former special assistant who accompanied him to Japan. Go said the President is all right and was on his way back to the Philippines.

    Duterte, 74, said it is normal for people who ride motorcycles to fall “once or twice” in their life. However, he said, he could no longer tolerate the pain in his waist and hip area, “yung sa belt banda, mga three inches medyo masakit (in the best area, about three inches, it’s painful).”

    A second video showed the President, aboard a vehicle with Go, reading articles about motorcycles.

    Go said the President said he would not stop riding motorcycles despite the accident on October 16.

    Chief Presidential Legal counsel Salvador Panelo, concurrent presidential spokesman, said presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio stayed behind and represented her father in the Emperor’s banquet on Tuesday night.

    Another banquet, hosted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was set for Wednesday, which the President was also supposed to attend.

    Panelo said the President cut short his trip “due to unbearable pain in his spinal column near the pelvic bone as a consequence of his fall during his motorcycle ride” and “will see his neurologist” today.

    Malacañang said Duterte was expected to arrive at around 11 p.m. Tuesday.

    The President flew to Japan on Monday and was supposed to return to the Philippines on October 24.

    Panelo said the President managed to attend the enthronement rites but had to use a cane “to assist him in his walk.”

    He also said the public “can rest assured that there is nothing to worry as regards the physical health and condition of the President as he gives serious priority thereto in actively serving our country.”

    The President last week figured in what Malacañang said was a “minor” motorcycle accident while driving two-wheeled and three-wheeled motorcycles around the PSG Park. Go has said the President fell as the motorcycle toppled and injured his hip.

    The President, in a statement released by Malacanang, said he was honored and privileged to have witnessed the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito.

    “We felt the ardent joy of the Japanese people and their abiding love for His Majesty during this joyous celebration. The Philippines conveys its warm wishes for the Reiwa era under His Majesty’s ideals, wisdom and benevolence,” he said.

    It was the third time this month that the government has tried to allay concerns about Duterte’s health after the maverick former mayor told the Filipino community in Moscow that the frequent drooping of one eyelid was due to a chronic neuromuscular disorder.

    Duterte’s known problems include back pain, migraines from nerve damage after a previous motorcycle accident and Barrett’s esophagus, affecting his throat. His circulation is impacted by Buerger’s disease, from heavy smoking when he was younger. He last year said he had tested negative for cancer.

    When missing for longer stretches and amid rumors about deteriorating health, the president’s closest aide has posted on social media what appear to be proof-of-life images of Duterte relaxing at home, often with the day’s newspaper in shot. His administration attributes his disappearances to fatigue from a punishing daily schedule that typically involves several public events and two or three speeches.

    CENTURIES-OLD RITES

    TOKYO. – Japanese Emperor Naruhito formally proclaimed his ascendancy to the throne on Tuesday in a centuries-old ceremony attended by dignitaries from more than 180 countries, pledging to fulfill his duty as a symbol of the state.

    Naruhito became emperor and his wife Masako became empress on May 1 in a brief ceremony, but Tuesday’s “Sokui no Rei” was a more elaborate ritual at the royal palace in which he officially announced his change in status to the world.

    “I swear that I will act according to the constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people,” the 59-year-old emperor declared, his voice slightly hoarse, in front of about 2,000 guests including Britain’s Prince Charles.

    “I sincerely hope that Japan will develop further and contribute to the friendship and peace of the international community, and to the welfare and prosperity of human beings through the people’s wisdom and ceaseless efforts.”

    Naruhito is the first Japanese emperor born after World War Two. He acceded to the throne when his father, Akihito, became the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries, worried that advancing age might make it hard to perform official duties.

    The long-planned celebrations, for which Japan declared a national holiday, were tempered following typhoon “Hagibis” which killed at least 82 people when it tore through Japan 10 days ago, and pouring rain early on Tuesday.

    A public parade was postponed until next month to allow the government to devote attention to the typhoon clean-up, while Tuesday’s weather forced the palace to scale back the number of courtiers in ancient robes taking part in the courtyard ceremony.

    But just before the ceremony began, the skies cleared and a rainbow appeared over Tokyo.

    Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivered a congratulatory speech before assembled dignitaries including Crown Prince Akishino, the emperor’s younger brother, and his family, all adorned in brightly colored robes.

    Other guests included US Transport Secretary Elaine Chao and Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Abe led a trio of cheers of “banzai,” or “long life,” for the emperor, before a 21-gun salute.

    UNUSUAL

    Naruhito entered the palace to cheers from admirers before reporting his enthronement to his imperial ancestors at three shrines on the palace grounds, dressed in pure white robes.

    Naruhito is unusual among recent Japanese emperors since his only child, 17-year-old Aiko, is female and cannot inherit the throne under current law. Unless the law is revised, the future of the imperial family for coming generations rests instead on the shoulders of his nephew, 13-year-old Hisahito, who is second in line for the throne after his father, Crown Prince Akishino.

    Naruhito’s grandfather, Hirohito, in whose name Japanese troops fought World War Two, was treated as a god but renounced his divine status after Japan’s defeat in 1945. Emperors now have no political authority.

    Though many Japanese welcomed the enthronement ceremony, there was at least one protest by about two dozen people. There had been sometimes violent protests when Akihito was enthroned.

    “There is no need for such an elaborate ceremony. Traffic has been restricted and it is causing inconvenience for ordinary people,” said Yoshikazu Arai, 74, a retired surgeon.

    “The emperor is necessary now as a symbol of the people, but at some point, the emperor will no longer be necessary. Things will be just fine without an emperor.” – With Reuters

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