Duterte, PM Abe to discuss maritime defense cooperation
President Duterte on Tuesday began his three-day state visit to Japan to discuss maritime defense cooperation and to attract official aid and private investments in high-impact projects in transportation and infrastructure.
In his departure speech at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, the President called the visit “an important time” for Philippine-Japan relations, especially as he pursued an “independent foreign policy.”
“I go to Japan with full trust that we can understand each other and Japan will understand my position vis-à-vis the foreign policy that I want to implement. It’s just a question of a policy that is really truly Filipino,” Mr. Duterte said.
During the three-day official visit, the President is expected to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, members of Japan’s parliament, business groups and Emperor Akihito. It was Abe who invited Mr. Duterte during the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) meeting in Laos to visit Japan.
“We will discuss, among others, greater politico-social and defense cooperation, particularly in maritime domain awareness and maritime security,” Mr. Duterte said.
Mr. Duterte called Japan, a key ally of the United States, “a valued strategic partner and one of our true friends. He said Philippine-Japan relations were based on “adherence to the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes.”
When a Japanese reporter asked him which country he liked more, the President quickly replied: “Between China and Japan I think I love the Philippines more.”
The President went on a four-day state visit to China last week where he obtained loan and investment promises worth P700 billion.
In Japan, the President planned to seek joint ventures in key infrastructure development, including getting the experience and expertise of Japan in developing high-quality and modern public transportation. He said Mindanao would be the “central focus” of his bid to attract more Japanese loans and investments.
“I look forward to meeting business leaders in Japan. I will tell them clearly that the Philippines is open for business. The visit will be an
opportunity for me to personally thank Japan for its preeminent and peerless role as the Philippines’ development partner. I shall seek the strengthening of this role through more high-impact projects that will benefit our nation,” he said.
He was looking forward to meeting Emperor Akihito, which he said was of “great and special significance.”
“It reaffirms at the highest level the positive transformation of ties between our nations and peoples. It renews our shared commitment to a forward-looking partnership that is founded on mutual respect, dignity and solidarity. It will capture in one moment the full range of our relations with a country that is kept at high regard and definitely deserves its unique place,” he said.
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