MANILA -- The Japanese government has reiterated its commitment to assist the Philippines in fighting terrorism, Malacañang said on Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this was the assurance made by Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono to President Rodrigo R. Duterte during a courtesy call in Davao City on February 9.
Kono met Duterte to personally relay Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to deepen cooperation between the two countries and concern over the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu.
“FM Kono likewise conveyed PM Abe’s grave concern over the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu and expressed Japan’s condemnation of the terrorism and violent extremism and their commitment to assist the Philippines in combatting the scourge of terrorism,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo, however, said the Japanese government has not yet particularized in detail how it would help the Philippines -- either by military exercises or acquisition of defense equipment.
He said that Kono also lauded the success of the holding of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite, reiterating support for the Philippines' quest for lasting peace in Mindanao.
Kono also expressed Japan’s commitment to rehabilitate and reconstruct Marawi and develop the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including funding of the Road Network Development Plan for ARMM, Panelo said.
Moreover, Kono recognized the Philippines' contribution to the socio-economic development of Japan and conveyed Japan’s plan to open up its labor market for qualified Filipinos.
For his part, Duterte described Japan as “a true friend and proven partner” for its involvement in the Philippines’ “Build, Build, Build” program, Panelo said.
Duterte highlighted the quality of the infrastructure projects and the transfer of technology and training embedded in the projects that would benefit Filipino practitioners and experts.
The President stressed the need to continue strengthening the strategic partnership, particularly in addressing transnational crimes and conventional and emerging regional threats.
Panelo said Duterte also expressed his desire to meet Abe again to discuss developments in bilateral ties and assess ways of moving forward together on shared concerns but has yet to confirm if he had plans to visit Japan.
The two leaders were last seen together during the 33rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore in November 2018.
Kono recently attended the inauguration of Japan’s Consulate General in Davao which he described as “significantly expanding Japan’s presence and ties in the southern Philippines”. (PNA)