Palau President Tommy Remengesau, Jr. said that the leadership of Japan’s former Emperor Akihito had made the friendship between Palau and Japan stronger.

In his message to the former Emperor Akihito, who officially abdicated the throne Tuesday, April 30, Remengesau expressed his appreciation for all the works that the former Emperor had done under his reign.

Remengesau said that the former emperor had brought a message of peace to the world that is “heard loud and clear by the people of Palau and the Pacific region.”

“You have encouraged life’s greatest values of compassion, understanding, and friendship, and in so doing you have set an example for every man, woman, and child. Your message of Peace continues to inspire us, and the memory of your friendship gives us strength,” Remengesau said in the letter.

Palau’s president also congratulated the new Emperor Naruhito, the former Emperor’s eldest son, as he leads Japan into a new era called Reiwa, which means order and harmony.

“I especially congratulate his Imperial Majesty, the Crown Prince, on his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne. May he reign in good health, peace, and prosperity, and may he continue your efforts to champion peace and harmony among all mankind,” Remengesau said in his message.

One of Palau’s states, Peleliu, had passed a legislation last year to make the commemoration of former Japan Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko’s visit to Palau in 2015 a special non-working holiday.

The royal couple had visited Palau for the first time last April 9, 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2 and at the same time pay tribute to all the soldiers who perished in the war in Peleliu. Since then, Peleliu state commemorates the historic visit annually.

Around 10,000 Japanese troops were believed to have perished in Peleliu island during World War 2 in an intense fighting against American soldiers which lasted three months. (By Rhealyn C. Pojas)