President Rodrigo Duterte hopes to pay a courtesy call on His Majesty the Emperor even as his Tokyo visit aims to discuss with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe greater politico-social and defense cooperation, particularly in maritime domain awareness and maritime security.
Duterte however later nixed a possible Visiting Forces Agreement with Japan.
“I would like to say this with all candor, I look forward to the time when I no longer see any military troops or soldiers in my country except the Filipino soldiers. Hangarin ko po yan na wala na akong makitang sundalo sa ibang bayan kundi ’yung sundalo ng Pilipinas,” Duterte said in his departure speech yesterday before flying to Japan.
“I do not believe that we have a Visiting Forces Agreement with Japan. To my mind... I may be wrong but I have yet to come across an agreement or a piece of paper, which says that we are in this arrangement of Japanese troops-military troops if you mean visiting my country,” Duterte said of a possible VFA with Japan.
I really hate it. I don’t want it. We don’t need it. We are not going to war and there’s not going to be any war in the future,” Duterte stressed, referring to the presence of foreign troops.
The President also said that with Japan as the Philippines’ top trading partner”, I shall seek the sustainment [sic] and further enhancement of our important economic ties. I look forward to meeting business leaders in Japan. I will tell them clearly that the Philippines is open for business.”
Duterte described his visit to Tokyo as “most-awaited” and a “valuable opportunity to further deepen and broaden the Philippines’ relationship with Japan, our valued strategic partner and one of our true friends.”
“I go to Japan with full trust that we can understand each other and Japan will understand my position vis-a-vis with the foreign policy that I want to implement. It’s just a question of a policy that is really truly Filipino,” Duterte said before his departure for Tokyo.
Duterte said that Abe’s invitation extended at the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting in Laos last September paves the way for discussions on key issues of mutual importance to the Philippines and Japan.
“This courtesy call is imbued with great and special significance. It reaffirms at the highest level the positive transformation of ties between our nations and peoples. It renews our shared commitment to a forward-looking partnership that is founded on mutual respect, dignity and solidarity,” said Duterte.
He also said that his three-day official visit to Tokyo aims at encouraging Japanese investors to engage the Philippine market and get them involved in government infrastructure projects.
The President said he shall seek to open more avenues of cooperation in key infrastructure development to support the Philippines’ sustained growth and development. “In particular, we can tap the experience and expertise of Japan in developing high quality and modern public transportation,” he said.
Duterte also said his trip an opportunity for him to personally thank Japan for its preeminent and peerless role as the Philippines’ development partner, and to the strengthening of this role through more high-impact projects that will benefit the Philippines.