TOKYO, Japan—President Rodrigo Roa Duterte expressed his gratitude to Japan for committing around 25 billion yen for the development of Mindanao’s road network, vocational training facilities, and other projects.
“I thank Prime Minister Abe for the importance his government attaches to the Mindanao and its commitment to achieve just and lasting peace and a sustainable development for the people of Mindanao,” President Duterte said during the joint press event with the Japanese leader on Friday.
The two leaders had a bilateral meeting before issuing joint statements to the media.
During his meeting with Abe, the President said among the issues discussed were modalities for greater cooperation in upgrading the Philippines’ defense capabilities, including maritime security and maritime domain awareness.
Both countries explored opportunities to tap the Philippines’ demographic complementarity to drive growth in their economies, including the possibility of Japan opening its doors to foreign skilled workers.
“And I am pleased with the growing interest and confidence in the Philippines as a preferred trade and investment destination by Japanese businesses,” the President said on possible Japanese investments in the Philippines.
He also welcomed Japan’s support for the government’s flagship Build, Build, Build infrastructure program.
Other challenges were also tackled during the bilateral meeting including regional maritime security, non-traditional threats, the Korean Peninsula peace efforts, free trade, and the advancement of rule of law.
The President also conveyed the Filipino people’s deepest respect and appreciation to Emperor Emeritus Akihito.
With the accession of Emperor Naruhito, President Duterte expects renewed confidence that Japan’s ties with the Philippines and with the rest of the world will be characterized by beautiful harmony.
In a separate statement, Abe welcomed President Duterte on his visit to Japan.
“First of all, President Duterte, may I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the overwhelming victory that you had achieved in the recent midterm elections in your Republic,” Abe told the President.
He vowed to continue supporting projects being promoted by the President such as the peace process in Mindanao and infrastructure development.
Japan will strengthen its support to the Mindanao peace process so that the Moro people can truly feel and enjoy the peace dividend at the earliest possible time, Abe said.
For infrastructure development, Abe made a commitment for continued backing of sustainable economic development of the Philippines through assistance in quality projects.
At the same time, he welcomed the decision of the Philippine government to lift the import suspension on fishery products from Fukushima prefecture prior to the President’s visit to Japan.
He made an assurance on the safety of Japan’s agriculture, forestry, and fishery products from Fukushima.
“With another milestone reached today, I look forward to working hand in hand with President Duterte to further deepen the bond of friendship between Japan and the Philippines and to contribute to regional and global peace and prosperity,” Abe added.
Abe also hosted a banquet for President Duterte at the Prime Minister’s residence here.
Accompanying the President were his long-time partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña and the members of his Cabinet.
Filipino-Japanese sumo wrestler Takayasu Akira was also present during the banquet. Akira is an Ōzeki-ranking sumo wrestler.
President Duterte returns to the Philippines Friday night. PND