JAPANESE Prime Minister Shinzo Abe yesterday told his host President Rodrigo Duterte he is “honored” to be the first foreign leader to visit the country during the Philippine leader’s administration.
Abe will also be the first foreign leader to visit Davao and Duterte’s residence there.
In his opening statement during their summit meeting in Malacañang yesterday, Abe told Duterte that he chose Philippines to be his first foreign visit in 2017 to show his commitment to improve the relations between the two nations.
“This is a tremendous honor for me to be invited as the very first foreign leader under your administration visiting Manila,” Abe said.
“I chose the Philippines as my first destination this year and that is a testament to my primary emphasis on our bilateral relationship with the Philippines,” he added.
“Back in October, I welcomed Mr. President in Tokyo and I am delighted to be in Manila to see you again and after only a short interval,” Abe said. “And, moreover, tomorrow my wife and I will visit Davao, your home city, and that gives us a great pleasure,” he added.
Abe said that he supported the Philippines’ chairmanship of the ASEAN.
“Mr. President will serve as the ASEAN chair this year and I am ready to fully support your Chairmanship so as you shall have successful ASEAN-Related Summit Meetings and the East Asia Summit this year,” Abe said.
“And together with you, I am committed to elevating our bilateral relationship to a higher ground covering a wide-range of areas. And also let us work hand in hand in addressing various challenges of the Asia Pacific region,” he added.
“And I very much look forward to having a very candid discussion with Mr. President today,” Abe said.
Meanwhile, in his opening statement, Duterte said that Abe’s visit showed “the shared commitment to further strengthen our important and valued strategic partnership.”
“We can identify ways of building on agreements that we have made on a wide range of issues that would benefit both of our nations and peoples,” Duterte said.
“This include among others intensifying trade and investments, bolstering defense, securing just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao, strengthening law enforcement against criminality and ensuring maritime safety and security,” he added.
P434B aid, investments
Japan yesterday pledged 1 trillion yen (P434 billion) in aid and investments to help the Philippines overhaul its infrastructure even as the two countries pledged to strengthen economic ties.
“For the further development of the Philippines, we will create business opportunities through ODA (official development assistance) and private sector investments, which together will be of the order of one trillion yen over the next five years,” Abe said in a joint press conference with Duterte.
“We will leverage Japanese technology and know-how to the fullest extent to positively cooperate for the improvement of infrastructure in Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines,” Abe said through an interpreter.
Tokyo, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is helping Manila study the feasibility of building railways that will connect the capital to nearby provinces and the first-ever rail system in Mindanao.
“We are encouraging our business sectors to intensify two-way trade and investment,” Duterte said.
Duterte secured $1.85 billion in investment pledges during his visit to Japan last year. These include deals with Toyota Motors Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors.