Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to cooperate in promoting regional peace and stability, as their joint statement focused largely on Japan’s contribution to Philippine military security and other projects totaling to 21 billion yen ($210 million) loan.
President Duterte expected that Japan will continue being an important part of maritime security in the region, including the South China Sea, held at his first round of talks with Japan’s Prime minister Shinzo Abe.
Not mentioning their security alliances with the US, but in a statement later, the two leaders acknowledged the importance of their network of friendship and alliances.
Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Haguida told reporters that Duterte reassured Abe that he has no intention to severe diplomatic ties with the US.
Japan is a strong US ally and hosts 50,000 American troops, where Duterte repeatedly spoken of distancing the country from Washington.
Duterte said that he wants the Philippines to be free of foreign troops , possibly within two years saying, “I want them out”.
“I want to be friends to China,” he told an audience of businesspeople in Tokyo. “I do not need the arms. I do not want missiles established in my country. I do not need to have the airports to host the bombers.”
As Duterte reached out to Beijing while criticizing US foreign policy, it caused anxiety to US and Japan. But, still, Abe welcomed Duterte’s recent efforts to improve ties with China.
“I may have ruffled the feelings of some, but that is how it is,” he said. “We will survive, without the assistance of America, maybe a lesser quality of life, but as I said, we will survive.”
Japan and Philippines signed agreements including Japan’s provision of two coast guard boats and T-90 military trainer aircraft as part of Japan’s contribution to step up Philippine maritime security capability.
Japan also agreed in supporting infrastructure and agricultural promotion projects in the Philippines to improve economic development.
“Japan will continue to play an important role in modernizing the capabilities of the Philippines” in maritime security, Duterte said, PhilStar reported.
“The Philippines will continue to work closely with Japan on issues of common concern in the region … and the peaceful settlements of disputes including the South China Sea”.