Duterte commits to broaden PH-Japan ties with new Japanese PM

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 16) – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and new Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reaffirmed their shared commitment to further broaden and deepen the two countries' ties across various areas of cooperation.

The two heads of state talked for the first time on Monday in a 25-minute long telephone conversation, three months after Suga's assumption as the new Japanese Prime Minister after predecessor Shinzo Abe stepped down due to health reasons.

"Japan is a valued partner of the Philippines. As a friend closer than a brother, ours is an exemplary partnership that has withstood the test of time," Duterte said.

Duterte thanked Japan for its consistent support for the peace and development agenda in Mindanao and his administration's centerpiece Build Build Build program, which Suga reiterated will continue under his term.

"The 36-kilometer Metro Manila Subway will commence partial operations by 2022. The first of its kind in the Philippines, it will be an important crowning achievement of our cooperation during my term," said Duterte.

Duterte also conveyed his gratitude for Japan's US$3.16 million emergency assistance, two substantial loans for the Philippines' pandemic recovery efforts, and for facilitating the repatriation of 3,852 Filipinos from Japan amid the health crisis.

"Until COVID-19, the Philippines was consistently among the fastest-growing economies in the region. Our fundamentals remain robust. The support of Japan raises our optimism and confidence in containing the pandemic and steering our economy back onto its growth trajectory," Duterte added.

Duterte also noted the growing maritime security and defense cooperation between the two nations as he exchanged views with Suga on regional issues, including the West Philippine Sea and the situation in the Korean Peninsula. Suga assured Japan will help in promoting a "free and open Indo-Pacific."

Meanwhile, Suga expressed hope the establishment of the Consulate General of Japan in Cebu on January will further strengthen the two countries' ties as 2021 marks the 65th year of the Philippines-Japan bilateral relations.