Speech of His Excellency, Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, at a luncheon tendered in honor of Mr. Shingoro Takaishi and other visiting newspapermen from Japan on January 28, 1944.

Mr. TAKAISHI AND GENTLEMEN:

We are privileged to have as our distinguished and honored guest at this luncheon Mr. Takaishi, the dean of newspapermen in Japan. Over and above all, he is a man who has gained recognition not only locally—and when I say locally, I mean not only Japan or the Philippines, nor regionally—and when I say regionally, I mean not only in the countries within the Co-Prosperity Sphere, but also the world over. He is a man who, in the past, had taken deep and abiding interest in the Philippines. His friendship is not only with the Filipinos in the actual administration but extends even to those who were at the helm of the Government before the present war. And so, it can be said that our esteemed and honored guest this noon is familiar with the background of the Philippines and the Filipinos, at this time as well as in times past. And as the dean and the leader of thought in Japan, he will bring about, as a result of his visit a closer understanding between the Filipinos and the Japanese here and in Japan as well as elsewhere and also something which through intellectual processes will produce the necessary and, perhaps the needed mentality m order to carry into effect certain changes that must be effected in order to realize the common purposes and the achievement of a common goal championed by Japan in waging this sacred war. Naturally, as the head of state, I feel there is nothing more important in an independent state than a certain degree of freedom of thought, a certain degree of freedom of religion, and a certain degree of protection of life, liberty and property as the minimum requirement for the happiness of the people and individuals, whether in Japan, in the Philippines or elsewhere. Naturally, an independent Republic looks forward to the day when freedom of thought, however relative it may be because of circumstances and because of the need of a certain degree of control over such freedom in order to bring about unity of purpose and coordination of activities, may be secured through our own agency and our own instrumentality; that is, through newspapers controlled and operated by the Filipinos themselves. It may be of interest and perhaps of importance in a gathering of this kind when we are forging greater and greater the spiritual bonds that unite the Filipinos and the Japanese and all the peoples of Greater East Asia, that I should perhaps make the following statement: In order to hasten the unity of all the peoples of Greater East Asia, and particularly the people of the Philippines and the people of the Great Empire of Japan—it is my feeling and my belief that what is important in forming the desired unity, the desired cohesion and the desired integration of the peoples of Greater East Asia is agreement on the fundamentals; that is to say, the peoples of Greater East Asia should agree on the liberation of all the peoples of Greater East Asia from Occidental domination and exploitation, and for that purpose, the peoples of Greater East Asia should agree and work for the establishment of the Co-Prosperity Sphere so that each people, acting in unison and with a common interest could be happy, if not happier in this part of the globe; and lastly, that for the achievement of these objectives, the peoples of Greater East Asia should act as one. If there is agreement on this fundamental purpose, it is to the interest of Japan, Mr. Takaishi; it is to the interest of the Philippines, and to the interest of the peoples of Greater East Asia that each unit should be given greater latitude of action in bringing about internal progress, consolidation of leadership and consolidation of authority without the least intervention on the part of Japan who is the coordinating and directing center of the Co-Prosperity Sphere.

May I, therefore, express to you the wish that you, as the leader of thought in Japan, you, as the dean and the distinguished leader in the field of newspaper work which moulds public opinion not only amongst the Japanese but amongst the one billion peoples of Greater East Asia, you, as the head of thought in Japan transmit this longing and this hope with a view to hastening the welding into one great power the one billion peoples of Greater East Asia. And with this statement, may I welcome you Mr. Takaishi, the dean, and distinguished subject of a Great Empire with this humble and modest token of affection and recognition of your leadership in the great enterprise of moulding opinion in the Philippines and elsewhere.

I thank you.

Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library