Even ahead of his abdication in April 2019, Emperor Akihito, who turned 84 last month, continues to be admired by former Philippine President Benigno Aquino with whom he has interacted directly on a number of past occasions.

In a statement issued late last year to Kyodo News, Aquino said, "in a world where there are those who try to cling to power Their Majesties serve as an outstanding example of the reverse, having dedicated their whole lives to solely serving their people.

"So much so that even the request to abdicate arises from that very perspective," he added.