AMID good relations between Japan and the Philippines, Tokyo has sought "deepened and expanded" cooperation with Manila, Malacañang said on Monday, February 11.
The commitment was made when Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono paid a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City on February 9, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
"[Kono] personally conveyed the warm wishes and message of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the President, as well as Japan’s commitment to further deepen and expand cooperation with the Philippines," the Palace official said.
Panelo, quoting Kono, said Abe was eyeing to open up its labor market for qualified Filipinos, as it acknowledges the Philippines's contribution to Japan's socio-economic development.
The President, in turn, lauded Japan, which he dubbed as "true friend and proven partner," for its involvement in the Philippines’ big-ticket infrastructure projects and for technology and training projects benefitting Filipino practitioners and experts, Panelo said.
"The President further expressed his desire to meet [Prime Minister] Abe again to discuss developments in bilateral ties and assess ways of moving forward together on shared concerns," Duterte's spokesman said.
Panelo added that during the long-hour meeting with Duterte, Kono had conveyed Abe’s "grave concern" over the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu in January, killing at least 20 people.
Panelo said Kono had expressed Japan’s condemnation of the terrorism and violent extremism, as well as its commitment to assist the Philippines in combating the scourge of terrorism.
"Kono reiterated Japan’s sustained support for the Philippines' quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao. [He also] extended felicitations for the success of the holding of the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite," Panelo said.
"[Kono likewise] expressed Japan’s commitment to rehabilitate and reconstruct Marawi and develop Armm (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao), including the funding of the Road Network Development Plan for Armm," he added.
Panelo said Duterte had hailed "significantly expanding Japan’s presence and ties in the southern Philippines" by inaugurating Japan’s Consulate General in Davao.
"President Duterte also emphasized the need to continue strengthening the strategic partnership, particularly in addressing transnational crimes and conventional and emerging regional threats," he noted. (SunStar Philippines)