TOKYO – President Rodrigo Duterte welcomed Japan’s fresh commitment to contribute to the country’s economic growth, highlighted by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s reaffirmation of support to the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program.
In his statement following their bilateral meeting at the PM’s official residence here, the President expressed elation over the “growing interest and confidence” in the Philippines as a preferred trade and investment destination by Japanese businesses.
“Japan’s comprehensive development assistance is nothing short of exemplary in quality and concessionality. It is the gold standard for the Philippines’ development cooperation with partner countries,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President particularly cited Japan’s ¥25 billion (P12 billion) commitment earmarked for the development of Mindanao’s road network, vocational training facilities and equipment, and other projects.
“I thanked Prime Minister Abe for the importance his government attaches to Mindanao and its commitment to achieve just and lasting peace and a sustainable development for the people of Mindanao,” expressed the Chief Executive, whom Abe called his “special friend.”
Stepped up cooperation
“With the world undergoing profound transformations brought by power shifts, rapid globalization, and technological advancement, we need to find a new equilibrium. Our region must be able to maintain its gains so that we can achieve the promise of an Asian century,” he added.
Both leaders also agreed to step up cooperation on security and defense with the Philippines and Japan sharing common concerns regarding “challenges to regional maritime security, non-traditional threats, ongoing efforts to secure peace in the Korean peninsula, supporting free trade and advancing the rule of law.”
“Today, Prime Minister Abe and I have rededicated ourselves to the common vision of a stable, free, and prosperous Asian region,” the President said.
“Nothing less can be expected when friends closer than brothers meet,” he concluded.
As the Chief Executive wraps up his four-day working visit to Japan, he brings home with him 26 new bilateral agreements, including trade and investment deals between Filipino and Japanese firms worth nearly $6 billion.
The deals, which include pledges from Japan’s Sumitomo Electric Industries Ltd, Mitsubishi motors, and giant convenience store chain Lawson Inc, are expected to create as many 82,737 jobs for Filipinos across the country.
Stability from engagements
Mr. Duterte said he believes forging stronger economic relations with Asia’s major economic powers would make the Philippines economically stable in the midst of economic uncertainties.
In a speech during his meeting with the Filipino community, he said US global influence is waning.
Currently, both the US and China imposed billions of dollars’ worth of tariffs on their exports, which already disrupted trade and rattled financial markets.
China has promised the Philippines a lot, but those were affected by the trade war, the President said.
In the middle of global economic woes, he advised Filipinos in Japan to become productive in their host country.
He spelled out projects donated by Japan in the Philippines, citing Davao City’s airport, which was constructed through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“Japan is a good country. You are really treated here as human beings.”
In the domestic front, the President reported the government’s economic policies have started to bear fruit.
He boasted the country’s credit rating upgrade, which he said, is now in the BBB+ category.
“We are just one step ahead, then we are at par with America and Japan, AAA,” the President explained.
Economic activities in areas outside Metro Manila are becoming more robust as evidenced by increased bank savings, he noted.
In Davao City, in particular, experts are seeing a rising middle class. Real property prices in the city are also now at par with the prices in Metro Manila.
As he completes his three remaining years in office, President Duterte advised Filipinos to choose the right leader who could continue what he has started.