(TOKYO, Japan)– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave a rousing welcome and hosted a dinner on Wednesday, October 26 for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during the latter’s first visit to Japan as state leader. Abe said there is a deep, warm, family-like or brotherly relationship bond between the Philippines and Japan.
“My sincere hope is to develop our future in full bloom together with Mr. President,” Abe said in his opening speech.
Abe recalled Duterte having a passion for Washoku Japanese cuisine. “That is exactly why I took the initiative to prepare the Washoku for you tonight. If you like it, please do come back to Japan as you wish to enjoy another batch of Washoku,” Abe said.
Abe revealed why Mindanao has close ties to Japan. “You are from a developed city where you served as a mayor for many, many years. Even back in those days, I understand that you took time to attend to His Majesty’s dinner birthday reception for a lot of times and for Japan, Mindanao is a dear friend. We have been helping Mindanao for many, many years and in honor of this friendship, I also invited those who have deep ties with Mindanao to this banquet tonight,” he said.
Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines, visited this part of Japan during his youth and wrote that the two nations would enjoy various exchanges and develop good relationship in the future.
“As he envisioned a long time ago, we now enjoy the relationship, which has been developed in every area, including political and economic cooperation as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges,” Abe said.
Duterte said in response to Philippines-Japan cemented friendship, “It is a relationship borne out by mutual respect and trust. It is a relationship strengthened by a common commitment to uphold democracy’s adherence to the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes. As countries and peoples that have shared a meaningful history, we now look forward to a future together as we chart a common path towards our aspiration for greater peace, progress, and prosperity.”
On Philippines-Japan strategic partnership, Duterte said, “Our security and defense cooperation is vibrant, our political exchanges are active, our economic cooperation is impressive; our partnership for peace in Mindanao and in the region is visible. Our commitment to inclusive growth and development is undeniable.”
While Duterte was mayor of Davao City, he saw Japan’s support for the people of Mindanao. “As a son of Mindanao and former mayor of Davao City, I have seen first-hand the depth and breadth of Japan’s involvement in Mindanao’s development. As President and as a Filipino, it is my vision that the whole Philippines will have the same positive experience,” he said.
The Philippines is thankful for Japan’s demonstration of concern and the respect it continues to uphold for the Filipino people. PND