MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday renewed their commitment to strengthen the strategic relations between the Philippines and Japan.
In a press statement, the Office of the President (OP) said the two leaders renewed their commitment through a telephone conversation on Wednesday (November 17).
“The phone call between Duterte and Kishida came a week after the latter was re-elected as Japan’s prime minister by parliament,” the Palace said.
President Duterte congratulated Prime Minister Kishida on his election and the Government of Japan on the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games, Malacañang said.
“The President also recalled Prime Minister Kishida’s visit in Davao in August 2016 when the latter paid a courtesy call as Foreign Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Kishida was the first Foreign Minister received by President Duterte,” it added.
The Palace further said that Duterte and Kishida agreed to undertake an exchange of visits “at a mutually agreed time to further reaffirm the Philippines-Japan partnership and personal friendship.”
“They likewise exchanged views on regional developments and multilateral issues, including the South China Sea issue, the situation in Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula, and non-proliferation,” it added.
Duterte also acknowledged how Japan has been “indeed a friend closer than a brother” after it sent assistance in the Philippines’ coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic response and recovery efforts.
The President also thanked Japan for supporting the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program, the peace process and grassroots development in Mindanao, and the ongoing transition process of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“Japan is unrivaled among our bilateral partners,” Duterte told Kishida.
The Palace said Duterte also informed Kishida that he is looking forward to the successful implementation of projects and activities aimed at enhancing the Philippines’ cooperation with Japan in the field of maritime security, particularly in maritime domain awareness, maritime connectivity, and preservation of the marine environment.
On his part, Kishida acknowledged that the Philippines-Japan relations “have indeed reached its golden age under President Duterte’s administration.”
The Japanese official gave his commitment that “Japan will continue supporting the Philippines’ peace and development agenda in Mindanao, ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The OP further said that Kishida “conveyed his government’s readiness to further strengthen Japan’s partnership in maritime security by supporting the upgrading of the Philippines’ maritime law enforcement capabilities.”
“President Duterte and Prime Minister Kishida agreed that it is high time for the Philippines and Japan to pursue deeper security engagement and coordination by launching a Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting or 2+2 meeting,” Malacañang said.
“The Philippines and Japan celebrate two milestones this year — 65 years of normalized diplomatic relations and 10 years of Strengthened Strategic Partnership,” the Palace said. —/mbmf