VIENTIANE, Laos – Saying the Philippine leader is “very famous” in Japan, an “excited” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during their bilateral meeting on Tuesday, September 6.
Duterte and Abe met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit here in Vientiane.
“President Duterte, I would like to congratulate you on assuming the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines,” Abe said through a translator on Tuesday.
Abe also told Duterte, “Mr President is quite a famous figure also in Japan, and I am very excited to see you in person.”
Abe’s remarks elicited laughter in a room full of government officials and diplomats, including Duterte Cabinet officials.
The Japanese prime minister continued by extending his sympathy to Duterte over the bombing that killed at least 14 people in Duterte’s home city of Davao.
Abe said: “First of all, I would like to underscore that Japan firmly deplores the terror incident which took place in Davao the other day. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences for the victims and their family members and also I’d also like to reiterate my feelings of sympathy for you.”
Abe is one of the leaders Duterte is meeting on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit. (READ: From Ban to Obama: Diplomatic issues mar Duterte debut)
Duterte was also supposed to meet with US President Barack Obama, but Obama cancelled their meeting after Duterte launched a tirade against him.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.