Duterte to discuss Marawi, North Korea with Japan PM Abe

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Davao City (CNN Philippines, October 30) — Regional security and trade are the top issues President Rodrigo Duterte is bringing to Japan for his two-day working visit.

"I will discuss with him ways to significantly advance our already strong and strategic bilateral partnership, especially on matters involving socioeconomic development, peace and progress in Mindanao, and the build-up of modern infrastructures in our country," he said before departing for Tokyo on Sunday night.

Duterte also told reporters he looks forward to discussing North Korea leader Kim Jong Un's nuclear threats with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"A nuclear war is totally unacceptable to everybody. And somebody has to talk to Kim Jong Un," he said. "I have joined the echo to just lower a bit (his) aggressiveness."

Defense ministers and officials of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members have reiterated their call to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. In its Joint Declaration released October 23, the group expressed its "grave concerns over the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula," including missile tests being conducted by the reclusive regime.

The rebuilding of war-torn Marawi City will also be included in the bilateral talks since Japan, along with other allies, have committed to extend assistance. Japan has pledged cash donation.

The President and his delegation arrived in Japan on Monday morning for Duterte's second visit. Duterte went to Japan for an official visit in December 2016.

Last January, Abe paid Duterte a visit in Davao City during his official visit. The President described the Japan Prime Minister as a "special friend who's closer than a brother."

RELATED: Duterte on Japan: 'Closer than brother'

The Philippines and Japan commemorated last year 60 years of diplomatic relations.

"Japan has always been with us in pursuing genuine peace in Mindanao and in the development of the entire nation," Duterte said.

Last March, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) signed a 771 million yen (about P340 million) grant aid project to support the energy sector in Mindanao's conflict-affected areas.

In January, it signed a loan agreement with the government of up to 4.9 billion yen (about P2.2 billion) for agricultural enterprises and capital investment in and around the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Duterte said he will personally convey gratitude to the Japanese royal family "for Japan's friendship with the Philippines, which has grown stronger under His Majesty's reign."

He is scheduled to meet with His Majesty Emperor Akihito and Her Majesty Empress Michiko during the visit.