PH-Japan ties reach 'golden age' under Duterte admin, says Kishida

Published November 17, 2021, 9:45 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan reached its “golden age” under the Duterte administration.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Malacañang photo)

This was among Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s remarks during his telephone conversation with President Duterte on Wednesday, Nov. 17.

In a statement Wednesday night, Malacañang bared that the two heads of state have renewed their commitment to “further deepen the Strategic Partnership between the Philippines and Japan”.

During their talk, Duterte congratulated Kishida on his election, as well as the Government of Japan on the success of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games.

The Philippine leader also recalled Kishida’s visit to Davao in August 2016 when the latter paid a courtesy call as the Japanese foreign minister. Prime Minister Kishida was the first foreign minister received by President Duterte.

“Japan is unrivaled among our bilateral partners,” said Duterte, as he acknowledged Japan’s support for the administration’s Build, Build, Build program; the peace process and grassroots development in Mindanao; and the ongoing transition process of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

Duterte said Japan has shown that it is “indeed a friend closer than a brother” through its timely assistance to the Philippines’ coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic response and recovery efforts.

Duterte also said he looks forward to the successful implementation of projects and activities aimed at enhancing Philippines-Japan cooperation in maritime security, particularly maritime domain awareness, maritime connectivity, and preservation of the marine environment.

For his part, Kishida said Philippines-Japan relations have indeed reached its golden age under President Duterte’s tenure. He said Japan will continue supporting the Philippines’ peace and development agenda in Mindanao; the Build, Build, Build program; and efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

(Photos from Unsplash)

Kishida also conveyed his government’s readiness to further strengthen Philippines-Japan partnership in maritime security, including by supporting the upgrading of the country’s maritime law enforcement capabilities.

The two leaders agreed that it is high time for the Philippines and Japan to pursue deeper security engagement and coordination by launching a foreign and defense ministerial meeting or 2+2 meeting.

They also agreed to undertake an exchange of visits at a mutually agreed time to further reaffirm the Philippines-Japan partnership and personal friendship.

They likewise exchanged views on regional developments and multilateral issues, including the South China Sea issue, the situation in Myanmar, and the Korean Peninsula and non-proliferation.

The Philippines and Japan celebrate two milestones this year – their 65 years of normalized diplomatic relations and their 10 years of Strengthened Strategic Partnership.

Duterte will step down from Malacañang on June 30, 2022.