By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is interested to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries, from fighting terrorism and other transnational crimes to promoting labor cooperation and infrastructure development, Malacañang said Monday.
The President recognized Japan as “a true friend and proven partner” of the country and remained grateful for the strong alliance, according to Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.
Duterte conveyed such remarks after Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono relayed the warm wishes and message of Abe and Japan’s commitment to further deepen and expand cooperation with the Philippines during a meeting in Davao City last Saturday. The top Japanese diplomat was in the country since Saturday for a three-day official visit.
“President Duterte also emphasized the need to continue strengthening the strategic partnership, particularly in addressing transnational crimes and conventional and emerging regional threats,” Panelo said.
“The President further expressed his desire to meet PM Abe again to discuss developments in bilateral ties and assess ways of moving forward together on shared concerns,” he added.
Panelo said the President also lauded Japan for its involvement in the Philippines’ Build, Build, Build program, and highlighted the quality of the infrastructure projects. He was also thankful for Japan’s contribution to the transfer of technology and training embedded in the projects that would benefit Filipino practitioners and experts.
In the hour-long meeting with Duterte, Kono also affirmed Japan’s sustained support for the Philippines’ quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao and lauded the success of the holding of the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite, according to Panelo.
He said Japan also committed to rehabilitate and rebuild Marawi and develop the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao including the funding of the Road Network Development Plan for the region.
He said Abe also expressed “grave concern” over the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu and expressed Japan’s condemnation of the terrorism and violent extremism. Japan has also offered to assist the Philippines in combatting the scourge of terrorism, Panelo said.
In the same meeting, Kono also disclosed Japan’s plans to allow more Filipino migrant workers into the country.
“Kono recognized the Philippines’ contribution to the socio-economic development of Japan and conveyed Japan’s plan to open up its labor market for qualified Filipinos,” Panelo said.