By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang confirmed on Tuesday President Duterte’s visit to Tokyo, Japan by the end of the month to further boost relations between the two countries.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President will make his third visit to Japan before the month ends.
“Sure na pupunta siya doon. Tinext ko si CP, Chief Protocol Robert Borje, wala pa siyang sagot kung kailan exact date (President Duterte will surely go to Japan. I texted Chief of Protocol Robert Borje but he has not responded yet when will it take place),” he said Tuesday.
According to Panelo, the invitation for Duterte to visit Japan was personally brought to Manila by the representative of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
He said the President told Abe’s representative that he has to go to Japan to show the country’s appreciation.
“What I heard also is that when the President accepted that, the representative of the prime minister came here to thank [him]. [The President said], ‘You don’t have to come here, we have to come to express our appreciation,'” Panelo shared.
The Palace official is also hoping that Duterte’s upcoming Japan trips would improve the trade relations between the two countries.
In March this year, Panelo confirmed reports that the President will fly to Japan to attend the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia. It will be held in Tokyo on May 30 and 31, and is sponsored by Nikkei.
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.”
Duterte was supposed to attend Nikkei’s conference in Japan last year but later canceled. He was also scheduled to fly to Tokyo in June 2017 but had to cancel because of the Marawi Siege.
Aside from the conference, Nikkei, revealed that both the Philippines and Japan are trying to set a summit between the two leaders.
This would 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 during 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 subway line in Metro Manila, which will be modeled after Tokyo’s underground transit services.