Duterte on working visit to Japan this month

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – President Duterte will visit Japan on the last week of the month upon the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced yesterday.

Duterte will embark on a working visit on Oct. 25 to 27 in a meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister and a state call on Japanese Emperor Akihito. 

During his meeting with Abe on the sidelines of the 28th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane, Laos last month, Duterte conveyed his acceptance of Abe’s invitation.

Duterte emphasized during the meeting that Japan is an old friend and a preeminent partner of the Philippines. He mentioned the two countries are strategic partners who share common values of mutual respect, cooperation and adherence to the rule of law. 

Duterte thanked Japan for its significant role in the development of the Philippines, most especially in Mindanao. He also expressed appreciation to Japan for its decades-long commitment to the peace and development of the Bangsamoro region.

Abe said Japan remains committed to its participation in the socio-economic development of the Philippines, advancement of the two countries’ defense cooperation, and provision of quality infrastructure. 

Abe reiterated his commitment to further promote regional peace and stability, cooperate in counterterrorism measures, and continue the regular and productive tradition of high-level exchanges.

The two leaders agreed on the necessity of continuing law enforcement cooperation and projects which will strengthen maritime capabilities of the Philippines.

Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa said Abe had talked with Duterte on ways to work on maritime cooperation on the sidelines of the ASEAN summit last month.

Abe had announced to Duterte his intention to provide a new loan for the building of patrol ships, Ishikawa said.

Duterte vowed to further strengthen ties with Japan, which pledged new patrol ships in a bid to help the country guard its territorial waters.

“Let me start by giving our sense of gratitude to the Japanese ambassador… our heartfelt thanks for giving us the ships – some are here, others are coming – and your desire to help the Philippines,” Duterte said in his speech at the 115th anniversary of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Manila last night.

Ishikawa said Duterte’s visit to Tokyo will enhance further the friendship with Japan, ranging from peace and security, counterterrorism, economic development, infrastructure and people-to-people exchanges.

“The BRP Tubbataha is a great symbol of friendship between Japan and the Philippines,” Ishikawa said during the PCG anniversary.

The BRP Tubbataha is a developed version of Japan’s Bizan-class patrol vessel which Japan has given to the PCG.

“I would like to complete my remarks, that we are one together to further deepen our strong relations,” Ishikawa said.

In response, Duterte expressed gratitude for Tokyo’s helping the country.

“Sir, Ambassador, we have a long history of friendship and cooperation. As a matter of fact, Japan is one of the biggest contributors to the assistance of the Filipino people,” Duterte said. – With Christina Mendez

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