Photo from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Japan's top diplomat, Foreign Minister Taro Kono, met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City on Saturday evening, February 9, to discuss a host of issues, including the peace process in the southern Philippines.
During bilateral talks between Japan and the Philippines the following morning, Kono recalled his discussions with Duterte, particularly the promises to further improve the two countries' relations.
"As President Duterte mentioned, our two countries have entered a golden age of strategic partnership," he said on Sunday, February 10.
"Japan will support the Philippines' efforts to ensure peace and stability in region," he said. "Japan is ready to expand our support as the peace process progresses."
This official visit is the first for Japan's top minister. Kono's visit came months after his Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi, also visited Duterte's hometown from October 28 to 29, 2018.
A day after his courtesy call on Duterte, Kono held a bilateral meeting with Foreign Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr.
Locsin and Kono held an exchange of notes in relation to the "Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao."
Japan earlier pledged to loan almost $200 million for this road network that "supports the foundation of people's lives in Mindanao by improving access to schools and hospitals and by revitalizing economic activites in the region," Kono said. – Rappler.com
Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.