Duterte flies to Japan for 3rd visit
Updated (9:17 p.m.)
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte left Manila Tuesday afternoon to attend Nikkei’s 25th International Conference on The Future of Asia in Tokyo, his third trip to Japan since he assumed the presidency in 2016.
Duterte left Villamor Airbase in Pasay City at 4:53 p.m.
The President’s trip to Japan came days after social media went abuzz after photos and videos showing him walking with difficulty and sleeping during the graduation ceremonies of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 2019 in Baguio City surfaced.
Duterte was rumored to be confined last week after he disappeared from public view for a couple of days after the midterm elections.
Unlike his usual working trips, Duterte didn’t hold a departure ceremony. The same happened when the President attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing late last month.
In his four-day Japan visit, the President is set to meet Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the seventh time to reassert the country’s commitment to upholding freedom of navigation in the disputed areas of the South China Sea.
The Philippines and China have been locked in a maritime dispute for years over parts of the South China Sea.
Japan, unlike the Philippines, is not a claimant in the dispute but considers the area a vital sea lane for trade in the region.
Duterte’s visit to Japan came a month after his participation in the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
According to Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Duterte’s third visit to the East Asian nation would give the Philippines nearly P300 billion worth of investment deals, which would create 80,000 jobs for Filipinos.
Earlier, Lopez also said the Philippines and Japan would sign at least 10 business agreements during Duterte’s visit. (Editor: Cenon B. Bibe Jr.)
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