President Rodrigo Duterte (MNS Photo)

MANILA, Nov 18 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday renewed their resolve to bolster the strategic relations between the Philippines and Japan.

The two leaders’ commitment was made through a telephone conversation, the Office of the President (OP) said in a press statement.

“President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan renewed commitment to further deepen the Strategic Partnership between the Philippines and Japan,” the Palace said.

The phone call between Duterte and Kishida came a week after the latter was reelected as Japan’s prime minister by parliament.

Duterte, during the phone call, congratulated Kishida on his reelection, Malacañang said.

“The President also recalled Prime Minister Kishida’s visit in Davao in August 2016 when the latter paid a courtesy call as Foreign Minister of Japan. Prime Minister Kishida was the first Foreign Minister received by President Duterte,” it added.

Duterte and Kishida, the Palace said, agreed to undertake an exchange of visits “at a mutually agreed time to further reaffirm the Philippines-Japan partnership and personal friendship.”

“They likewise exchanged views on regional developments and multilateral issues, including the South China Sea issue, the situation in Myanmar and the Korean Peninsula and non-proliferation,” the OP said.

Malacañang said Duterte also told Kishida that Japan is “indeed a friend closer than a brother,” citing its timely assistance in the Philippines’ coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic response and recovery efforts.

Duterte likewise thanked Japan for supporting his administration’s ambitious “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program, the peace process and grassroots development in Mindanao, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao’s ongoing transition process.

Kishida, on the other hand, acknowledged that Japan’s ties with the Philippines “have indeed reached its golden age under President Duterte’s administration.”

The Palace said Duterte also informed Kishida that he is looking forward to the “successful” implementation of projects and activities aimed at enhancing Philippines’ cooperation with Japan in the field of maritime security, specifically in maritime domain awareness, maritime connectivity, and preservation of the marine environment.

“Japan is unrivaled among our bilateral partners,” Duterte, as quoted by the OP, told Kishida.

Kishida, the OP said, agreed with Duterte and conveyed his government’s readiness to further strengthen Japan’s partnership in maritime security by supporting the upgrading of the Philippines’ maritime law enforcement capabilities.

“President Duterte and Prime Minister Kishida agreed that it is high time for the Philippines and Japan to pursue deeper security engagement and coordination by launching a Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting or 2+2 meeting,” Malacañang said.

The Philippines and Japan celebrate this year 65 years of normalized diplomatic relations and 10 years of Strengthened Strategic Partnership. (MNS)

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