Back from Japan, Duterte calls visit ‘another defining moment’
President Rodrigo Duterte came home late Thursday night from his three-day state visit to Japan, which he described in his arrival speech at the Davao City International Airport as “another defining moment” in Philippine relations with the Land of the Rising Sun.
“I discussed with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in full detail, the state of Philippines-Japan ties and we identified terms of collaboration that would lead to a common path towards the achievement of shared objectives,” he said. “By all accounts and by any measure, Philippine-Japan ties today are excellent.”
He said his meetings with Japanese officials, which he described as “productive,” covered economic, social, political, security issues.
He stressed “freedom of navigation and overflight” a key goal that the Philippines agreed to pursue with Japan.
That was the same key issue that, just a few days earlier in his state visit to China, he agreed on with President Xi Jianping.
Both the Philippines and Japan have longstanding disputes with China on certain areas of the South China Sea. But Duterte made it clear that achieving security and stability in the region would also including curbing piracy and other criminal activities in those water.
In this, he said: “Japan will play a vital role in modernizing the Philippines’ capacity as a nation with maritime interests to protect.”
He added that Japan would remain a top trading partner of the Philippines.
After his talks with Japanese officials, he said: “It was clear to me that Japan is and will always remain a true friend of the Philippines.”
During his visit to China, Duterte made remarks about separating from the United States, a longtime ally, which worried Japan, another US ally, although the Philippines and US fought side by side against Japan during the Second World War.
On his return from his visit to China, Duterte clarified that he only meant pursuing policies independent of the US.
After his speech on arriving from Japan, Duterte gave a news conference during which he did not curse, having made a vow during his return trip to refrain from doing so. –ATM
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