Palace: PH-Japan partnership on a 'stronger footing' after Duterte's visit

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Presidential photo

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — The Philippines’ strategic partnership with Japan has been on “an even stronger footing” after President Rodrigo Duterte's four-day working visit to Japan, the Palace said Saturday.

The President capped his visit “on a high note,” the Palace said in statement, citing the cooperation agreements between the two countries during the recently concluded 25th Nikkei International Conference on The Future of Asia.

Malacañang said Duterte lauded the Philippines-Japan partnership as one that “empowers rather fosters dependency” and is the “kind of relationship that we (Philippines) seek with other countries.”

Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in infrastructure development, trade and investments, agriculture, labor, defense, maritime security and maritime domain awareness, people-to-people exchanges, and the pursuit of just and lasting peace and progress in Mindanao,” the Palace said.

Malacañang cited that both leaders also discussed advancing the rule of law, including in the South China Sea. The President questioned China’s sweeping claims in the contested waters, making the remark as he veered away from his prepared speech at the conference. “I love China, it has helped us a bit. But it behooves upon us to ask, is it right for a country to claim the whole ocean?"

Duterte and Abe also exchanged views on regional maritime security, non-traditional threats, on-going efforts to secure peace in the Korean Peninsula, and supporting free trade, the Palace said.

The country's Asian neighbor renewed support for the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program.

Japan also pledged worth ₱12 billion development projects for Mindanao. "I am grateful for Japan’s fresh commitment of around 25 billion yen for the development of Mindanao’s road network, vocational training facilities and equipment, and other projects," Duterte said.

More than $5 billion dollars (or ₱288.804 billion) worth of business deals, which are expected to generate 82,737 jobs were signed during a business forum organized by the Department of Trade and Industry between Filipino and Japanese businessmen.