Malacañang said it understood the decision behind the cancelation of the planned official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide to the Philippines but expressed confidence that the relationship between the two countries will only continue to strengthen.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Suga on Wednesday called off a planned visit to both the Philippines and India supposedly due to the resurgence of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Japan.
In a statement, Roque said Malacañang understood why Suga made the decision, noting that defeating COVID-19 is the priority of all countries.
“The Office of the President understands the decision of the Office of the Prime Minister to postpone the planned Official Visit of His Excellency Suga Yoshihide to the Philippines,” he said.
“Defeating the COVID-19 pandemic is high on both the Philippines and Japan’s agenda and remains a key point of cooperation,” he added.
“The decision to postpone a planned Official Visit based on this ground, therefore, deserves support,” he continued.
Roque said despite the canceled visit, the relationship between the Philippines and Japan will only continue to flourish.
“The strategic partnership and broad cooperation between the Philippines and Japan will continue to strengthen even as we jointly and individually work to address the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
According to Japan Times, Suga’s trip to the Philippines and India had been scheduled from late April to early May and was intended to reaffirm Japan’s cooperation with the two countries in achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific.
His visit to the Philippines was aimed at marking the 65th anniversary of the normalization of the two countries’ diplomatic relations.
Suga was elected as Japan’s new prime minister in September last year following the resignation of his predecessor Abe Shinzo due to health reasons.
Malacañang had expressed readiness to work with the 72-year-old politician to bring the Philippines’ relations with Japan to greater heights.
Since becoming president, President Duterte has visited Japan four times. In 2017, Duterte and Abe said both countries have entered their golden age of strategic partnership.