VIENTIANE, Laos (PNA) – Even Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was starstruck to meet the new Philippine President.
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Tuesday met with the Japanese Prime Minister in a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits here at the National Convention Center in Vientiane.
At the meeting, Prime Minister Abe expressed his gladness of meeting President Duterte in person for the first time.
Abe admitted that he was excited to meet the Philippine President, saying that President Duterte is quite famous in Japan.
“Mr. President is quite a famous figure also in Japan and I’m very excited to see you in person,” Abe said upon shaking hands with President Duterte.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abe conveyed Japan’s sympathies to the Philippines following the Davao night market blast last week, saying that Japan remains side by side with the Philippines.
“I would like to underscore that Japan firmly deplores the terror incident which took place in Davao the other day,” Abe said.
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims and their family members. And also, I would like to reiterate my feelings and sympathy for you,” he said.
Furthermore, Abe said Japan looks forward to further cooperation with the Philippines, as he noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the normalization of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.
“Under our close partnership, I do look forward to further developing our cooperation in a wide range of areas together with you,” Abe said.
For his part, President Duterte said he is optimistic that the good bilateral relations between the two countries will continue under his term.
He also expressed the Philippines’ gratitude for Japan’s efforts to condole with the Philippines following the bombing incident in Davao City.
“I would like to thank the Japanese government for their efforts to commiserate with us in the bombing incident in Davao City. Thank you very much for your concern,” the President said.
President Duterte, meanwhile, underscored that Japan, particularly its Japan International Cooperating Agency (JICA), remains to be the biggest source of official development assistance to the country.
“For so many years, JICA has been there. Japan has been kind enough to extend us all the assistance for further development in our country and as a matter of fact, our trade shows that we export more to Japan than before,” he said.
“We saw to it that we are good partner also to our partner economy,” he added.
Meanwhile, President Duterte expressed the country’s support to Japan on the matter of the security in the Korean Peninsula.
Accompanying the President were Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Jr., Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Presidential Peace Adviser Jesus Dureza, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, and Philippine Ambassador to ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso.
Japan has been the Philippines’ top trading partner and the number one source of investments and bilateral official development assistance (ODA) since 2014.