Updated 15:08 PM PHT Thu, January 12, 2017
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Hours before the Japanese prime minister arrives in the country, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said government hopes to return the warm welcome President Rodrigo Duterte received in Japan last October.
"It's important for us Filipinos to recognize the fact that Japan is a country that gives us a lot of donations... and we should show our appreciation to the Japanese government by going out on the streets," Andanar told The Source.
"If we know that the prime minister is going to the street, print tayo ng [let's print] Japanese flags and wave it," he added.
Andanar said it was "one way of saying thank you to Japan for all the help."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to arrive shortly before 3 p.m. at Villamor Airbase on Thursday.
His two-day visit will cover counter terrorism, drug rehabilitation projects, infrastructure, and maritime cooperation and development among others.
This is the first visit of a foreign head of government this year, and also the first of such for Davao.
Andanar also noted Duterte was "warmly welcomed by the prime minister" during his visit to Japan.
"He was a rock star in Japan, and ended up in a banquet that went all through the night," he added.
Japan is a close ally of the Philippines, even as President Rodrigo Duterte's foreign policy shifts towards Asian neighbors and away from the West.
The 60-year alliance with Japan has come a long way since Japan occupied Manila in World War II.
Since then, the Asian neighbor has been a top trading partner, accounting for 14.4 percent of total trade and 21.41 percent of foreign direct investments.
Its relations and partnerships cover agriculture, cultural exchanges, development and military aid, economics, infrastructure, and peace efforts among others.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency has programs in the Philippines amounting to P31 billion, as of JICA's 2015 annual report.
The Philippines received over P930 billion in aid during Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) in 2013 according to the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub.
Around 209,000 Filipino nationals live in Japan while roughly almost 18,000 Japanese nationals live in the Philippines according to statistics released by the Japanese Embassy in 2013. There is a Japanese community that was established in Davao when some Japanese stayed behind after the war.
Abe visited the country in 2015 during the Asia Pacific Economic Corporation. Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko also made a state visit to the country last year.
CNN Correspondent JC Gotinga and researcher Ella Hermonio contributed to this report.