In a matter of two days, the President made great strides in the Philippine-Japan relations.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his two day official visit made sure that his trip will be a productive, both countries signed $6B worth of business deals, secured $1B loan to fund the key infrastructure under the Build, Build, Build project of his administration, aid for the rebuilding of Marawi, pledges from Japan in helping the country in fighting terrorism and illegal drugs, and more importantly steered the relations between the two countries into new heights.
In his arrival statement, Duterte said he discussed with his Japanese counterpart Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concrete, time-bound and specific ways to further intensify bilateral cooperation between Philippines and Japan. *
|Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the press conference at Abe's official residence in Tokyo (photo credit to T. Kitamura)|
“On top of our agenda is vital support for the centerpiece projects under the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program,” President Duterte said.
The Chief Executive added that more projects would be rolled off under Japan’s trillion yen or close to nine billion US dollars pledge of assistance.
He said that the Japanese Prime Minister has committed to “give flesh” to Japan’s special assistance program.
“I am committed to [working] closely with him to ensure that projects proceed soonest and it will be Done, Done, Done,” President Duterte said.
According to President Duterte, Philippines and Japan will intensify defense and security cooperation to combat terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes.
“We will strive to make our waters free and open to our peoples so that they can enjoy our rich natural maritime resources,” President Duterte said.
The President also thanked Japan for reaffirming its commitment to the Philippines’ pursuit of a just and lasting peace in Mindanao.
He said Japan would be the nation's partner in rebuilding Marawi as "the center of moderation and tolerance.”
President Duterte also mentioned that he and the Japanese Prime Minister discussed the perils of a nuclear war and other incidentals, particularly on the miscalculation of the atomic threat to any of the neighboring countries, notably China, South Korea and the peripheral neighboring nations. *
"You must remember that he is a leader of his people," Duterte said, adding that "whatever he proclaims himself to be, somebody has got to talk to him."
"So, if somebody could just reach out, talk to him and say, 'My friend, why don't you just join me in the table and we'll just talk about these things?'" Duterte told reporters in the southern Philippine city of Davao. "Nobody's talking to him."
Duterte echoed US President Donald Trump in saying he believes China has the greatest leverage with Pyongyang, a longtime Beijing ally. And he expressed concern over the potential for dangerous missteps in the standoff with North Korea over its nuclear program.
"We are worried, all of us, that you know, Murphy's Law, 'If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.'"
He also said that the industry leaders in Tokyo signed business agreements valued at six billion dollars, more than thrice the amount sealed business agreements during his first visit to Japan in 2016.
“We encouraged Japan to explore more opportunities to invest in the Philippines, including in steel manufacturing, agribusiness and IT and creative services,” he added.
President Duterte also said he looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Abe and other leaders to the Philippines in the upcoming 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. *
Meanwhile, the President said that he was humbled by the singular honor of meeting with Emperor Akihito in Tokyo and conveyed the Philippines’ deep appreciation, gratitude for Japan’s continuing friendship and support for the peace and development goals of the country.
“We want our relations with Japan to grow even more. Japan is our friend closer than a brother; Japan treats us as a sovereign equal,” he said, adding that the Philippines would work with Japan in building the "golden age” for the strategic partnership.
Report from PNA.gov.ph and Philstar