WILL Japanese Prime Minister Shinz Abe be visiting?
Residents around the Davao International Airport were alerted to the unusual size and sound of a bigger than usual airplane that landed just before noon Tuesday (December 20) at the Francisco Bangoy International Airport.
The aircraft turned out to be the Japanese Air Force One, an aircraft operated by Japan Air Self-Defense Force, on a test run, fanning speculations that Abe will be visiting soon.
The aircraft, a Boeing 747, landed around 11 a.m. Tuesday. It is one of the two Boeing 747 aircraft used by the Japanese government to transport the prime minister, emperor, and other high-ranking government officials.
Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) Davao area manager Agnes Udang, in a phone interview with SunStar Davao, said the practice run was aimed at testing the Davao airport runway’s viability as a landing area for the Boeing 747 Japanese aircraft.
“The aircraft landed around 11 a.m. on Tuesday and left the airport around 2 p.m. on the same day,” Udang said.
She added that the test flight was in coordination with the Japanese Embassy and the Philippine’s Presidential Protocol team.
The aircraft, according to the Japanese government website, has a capacity of 140 passengers and can be used for emergency evacuations of Japanese citizens and overseas deployment of Japan Self-Defense Forces personnel.
In a previous report, Davao City will host the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) 50th anniversary celebration set on January next year, as the country will also host the Asean Summit 2017.
At present, the city is preparing for the big event, as delegates from 10-member countries will grace the international event. The country’s hosting of the summit, with the theme "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World," will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the regional bloc.
Other Asean-related events, which will be hosted in Davao City, are Economic Ministry and Finance Ministry Business Conference eyed on March and July 2017. Cebu and Clark will also host a summit on April and November, respectively.
The country's Asean hosting will be spearheaded by the National Organizing Committee under the Office of the President.
President Rodrigo Duterte, during the recently-concluded 28th and 29th Asean meeting in Laos last November, formally accepted the task and he has urged his counterparts from the Asean to be the Philippines’ "dynamic and vibrant partners."