President Benigno Aquino III has given a red-carpet welcome to Japan's emperor in a sign of the blossoming ties of the Asian nations territorially at odds with China while further moving past painful memories of Japan's World War II aggression.

Aquino and Emperor Akihito held talks Wednesday at Manila's Malacanang presidential palace, where Philippine and Japanese flags were displayed side by side and Filipino troops fired cannons in a traditional salute. Aquino is to host a state banquet later for Akihito.

Outside the palace, six elderly Filipino women, who have accused Japanese occupation forces of forcing them into wartime sex slavery, led a protest to demand an apology and compensation from Japan.

Akihito is to pay his respects at memorials for both Philippine and Japanese war dead.