Palace: Duterte likely to visit Japan anew in May

Published March 25, 2019, 1:34 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Argyll Geducos 

Malacañang said that President Duterte will most likely visit Japan in May this year primarily to attend a regional conference.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the statement after the Japanese media reported that Duterte will be attending the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia.

The event, which will held in Tokyo on May 30 and 31, is sponsored by Nikkei.

In his press briefing, Panelo said that he has been hearing about the particular visit but said he would confirm it first.

“I heard that, too. Yes, I think so. Yes,” Panelo said Monday when asked for confirmation about the visit.

“Parang narinig ko sa Protocol, hindi ko pa (I think I heard that from the Protocol but I’m not sure yet)… But I will confirm that,” he added.

According to Kyodo News, a diplomatic source privy to the development revealed that a letter has been sent to Nikkei from President Duterte accepting the invitation.

The news report added that organizers are still working on which day Duterte will speak at the conference. The event carries the theme, “In search of the new global order — overcoming the chaos.”

The President’s trip to Japan in May will come a month after his attendance at the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, China late April this year.

Duterte was supposed to attend Nikkei’s conference in Japan last year, but later cancelled his appearance. Duterte was also scheduled to fly to Tokyo in June 2017, but had to cancel because of the Marawi Siege.

Aside from the conference, Nikkei disclosed that both the Philippines and Japan are trying to set a summit between Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The May trip could be Duterte’s third time to visit Tokyo since becoming President in 2016. Duterte last visited Japan in October 2017 to visit Abe and congratulate him for winning the elections.

Duterte also had a private audience with Emperor Akihito in his second visit.

President Duterte has been strengthening diplomatic ties with Japan, winning $9 billion in aid from Tokyo in 2017.

The Japanese government is supporting a number of infrastructure projects in the Philippines, including the country’s first-ever subway line in metro Manila, which will be modeled after Tokyo’s underground transit services.