Duterte: Japan visit fruitful
DAVAO CITY—President Duterte said late Thursday his visit to Japan had been a very fruitful one, with specific gains in the areas of economic, socio-political security and defense cooperation.
“By all counts and by any measure, Philippine-Japan ties today are excellent,” he said, “But we agreed that we can take things to a higher level by harnessing our respective strengths and using these so both our economies can further grow and our countries can continue to play their rightful role in the region,” the President said upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport Thursday night.
He also said the Philippines and Japan agreed to work closely to advance a rules-based regime to maintain stability and security in the region.
“Everyone in our region and beyond has a stake in the South China Sea,” he said.
“Both our governments committed to ensure the freedom of navigation and overflight in these waters. We have bilateral and multilateral venues at our disposal to ensure that commitments and responsibilities are complied with under international law, including under the 1982 (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea).”
The President also encouraged Japan to invest in the Philippines. Japan remains the country’s top trading partner.
“We also agreed to harness Official Development Assistance (ODA) to support inclusive growth and sustainable development in the country,” Duterte said. “Japan is our number one ODA partner and under JICA, high-impact projects benefiting both our urban and rural areas will be undertaken.”
As this developed, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on President Duterte to maintain cooperation with the United States at their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, highlighting the importance of the role the Japan-US alliance plays in the Asia-Pacific region.
Abe was concerned the regional security structure might be affected if Mr. Duterte strengthens his stance of leaning toward China. Mr. Duterte said the Philippines was on Tokyo’s side over the South China Sea issue, but it still remains to be seen if this will lead to a change in his anti-US political stance.
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