Toast Remarks of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte at the State Banquet held in honor of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
Rizal Hall,, Malacañan Palace
12 January 2017

Your Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Madam Abe, distinguished members of the Japanese delegation, fellow workers in government, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Tonight is a welcome and a much-awaited reunion. Just four months ago, I was in Tokyo discussing in earnest with Prime Minister Abe ways to define the strong and strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan.

By all accounts, that visit was a success, with both sides agreeing to chart a common path towards a deeper and even more meaningful engagement.

Prime Minister Abe’s presence in Manila today is proof positive that Japan and the Philippines are fully committed to bring this long standing friendship and tried and tested partnership to even greater heights.

Our discussions earlier today moved us to a new level, closer to the achievement of common goals of ensuring a stable and more secure environment for our nations and our peoples to continue to grow.

We resolved to strengthen maritime and security cooperation, advance the cause of peace and development in Mindanao, intensify economic and trade cooperation, and to address the scourge of the illegal drugs trade in a comprehensive manner.

The agreements we signed today show that on all fronts, we are moving forward together as only true friends can. We are friends who treat each other with mutual respect and trust. We are friends who are bound by a shared common resolve to uphold democracy, adherence to the rule of law and a peaceful settlement of disputes.

And we are friends who constantly seek to invigorate relations through cooperation. Indeed, allow me to say again tonight that ours is a special friendship whose value is beyond any measure. As countries and peoples that have a shared and meaningful history, we can look forward with confidence to a brighter future filled with ever-expanding opportunities for working together.

Tomorrow, Prime Minister Abe will visit Davao City. As a son of Mindanao and former mayor of Davao, I welcome this sincere gesture. His visits to Manila and Davao are record setting and a highlight of genuine desire to connect with the Filipino people. Prime Minister Abe is the first head of government to visit the Philippines in 2017 and during my first term. And he will be also the first leader that I will welcome in Davao City during my presidency.

In Tokyo, I said that Japan deserves its own rightful place in the constellation of the Philippines’ friends. Tonight, let me reiterate that Japan is a friend closer than a brother. That means that Japan is a friend unlike any other.

On this note, I therefore ask everyone to raise their glasses.

To Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress, for their continued good health and benevolent reign.

To His Excellency, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife, for your strong and wise leadership.

To the people of Japan for your generosity and prosperity.

Mabuhay!

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