Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday celebrated the 65th Anniversary of Japan-Philippines Friendship Day, with the Japanese leader expressing optimism the legacy of this alliance will provide momentum for further deepening relations between the two countries.
In a video message, Suga also hailed the “strong bond” between Tokyo and Manila, where he conveyed his appreciation for the deepening diplomatic relations and highlighting the successful collaborations between the two countries throughout the years.
President Duterte expressed confidence that the Philippines relations with Japan will become stronger, describing the two countries’ relations as “a friend closer than a brother.”
“Japan is unrivaled in its status as one of the Philippines’ trading partners. Only a handful of our bilateral relationships have been as deeply transformative as the one we have with Japan,” Duterte said in a statement on the 65th year of the normalization of bilateral relations between Manila and Tokyo.
“As I have said time and again, Japan is a friend closer than a brother. I am confident that our partnership will continue to strengthen as our people-to-people linkages continue to deepen,” he added.
Suga cited the role Japan has played in supporting the Philippines in its development efforts as well as the continued cooperation between the two sides in battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tokyo also provided Manila with Overseas Development Assistance loans, vaccines, and medical equipment to help the Philippines in its COVID-19 response.
“Our countries cooperate with each other at various levels and support each other in a wide range of fields. The bond between us has never been this strong,” Suga said.
The Prime Minister said that as a huge supporter of the “Build, Build, Build” program, Japan has been a reliable partner of the Philippines through public and private sector engagement.
Among the major undertakings of such partnership is the Metro Manila Subway Project, the country’s first-ever subway line that will soon serve many Filipinos.
The Japanese Prime Minister also revealed that his country has successfully fulfilled its 2017 five-year commitment to public and private financing of one trillion yen or approximately P476 billion to support the Philippines.
The Japanese leader also noted the legacy of Japan’s engagement in the peace-building effort in Mindanao. He reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to reinforce its support in ways commensurate with the progress of the peace process.
Suga also vowed that being a long-time partner of the Philippines in promoting lasting peace and development in Mindanao, Tokyo will continue to do so in the years beyond.
Prime Minister Suga also underscored the shared values of Japan and the Philippines as maritime nations.
“With the aim of realizing a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” PM Suga emphasized that Japan will continue to proactively advance cooperation with the Philippines. This includes the collaboration on the enhancement of maritime law enforcement capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard, and its activities in the Sulu and Celebes Seas and their surrounding seas,” he said.
“Our strategic partnership is founded on shared values such as freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, and has entered its ‘golden age’,” Suga added.
President Duterte also shared his well-wishes for the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. He praised Japan’s hosting amidst the pandemic as an enduring symbol of humanity’s unbowed spirit.
The President’s message concludes with his hopes that the shared future of Japan and the Philippines remain bright.