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PH envoy: Japanese ‘fascinated’ with Duterte

TOKYO, Japan — Even with his colorful language and contentious pronouncements, President Rodrigo Duterte does not strike the Japanese people as controversial.

On the contrary, they are fascinated by him and find him interesting.

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Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel said this was the reason President Duterte was chosen as one of five state leaders invited to deliver a keynote address at the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia on Friday.

“[I]t’s not [Japanese Prime Minister] Abe [Shinzo] alone — it’s the Japanese who are themselves fascinated by his government,” Laurel said on Thursday.

Other keynote speakers

Also invited as keynote speakers are the leaders of Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Bangladesh who, like President Duterte will announce, valuate and assess their nations’ development.

The President was expected to arrive in Tokyo on Tuesday night.

In an interview with reporters, Laurel said the Japanese have “always [been] fascinated with leadership that is recognized [and] affirmed by their own people.”

Laurel added that Duterte’s leadership “at the same time, [comes with] tremendous political will insofar as his programs are concerned. So he is not controversial but interesting. He’s in a different class for the Japanese.”

The Japanese “are also looking at national leaders, particularly in this region, in this era, and that [is what] tips the relationship between Japan and the Philippines,” Laurel said.

‘Golden era’

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He described the diplomatic ties between the two nations under the Abe and Duterte administrations as a “golden era.”

“You know our relationship is tremendously on the upscale. To be very straightforward [about it], we do not have any problem here,” Laurel added.

Despite rosy prospects between the two countries, President Duterte may not have a chance to get an audience with new Emperor Naruhito during his visit in Tokyo this week.

Laurel explained that the emperor must first be enthroned—a ceremony set in October this year—before other world leaders can see him.

“The emperor is the symbol of Japan … The invitation does not come from Abe. It comes from the (Imperial) Palace,” he said.

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TAGS: 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia, Duterte's Japan visit, PH-Japan relations, Rodrigo Duterte, Shinzo Abe
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