Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano arrived in Manila on Friday night after a successful four-day official visit to Japan.
Representing President Rodrigo Duterte, Cayetano paid a courtesy call on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and officially met with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida for the first time since his appointment as Foreign Affairs secretary.
Duterte was supposed to be in Japan last February 5 but he had to forego the trip because of the Maute group siege of Marawi City. He also cut short his visit to Russia after placing Mindanao under martial law.
Cayetano and Abe had fruitful discussions on the general state of Philippines-Japan relations, and highlighted the sincere and warm friendship shared between the Japanese prime minister and the Philippine president.
Abe reiterated Japan’s continued support for the Philippines’ development priorities and campaign against illegal drugs and terrorism.
Cayetano briefed Abe and Kishida separately on the situation in Mindanao, reassuring the Japanese government that the Philippine government is on control of Marawi City.
The former senator had a productive and candid exchange at the working dinner hosted by Kishida at the Iikura Guest House. Cayetano expressed his gratitude for the unrelenting support of Japan toward the development of the Philippines, citing the over 1 trillion-yen financing package, and looked forward to their future engagements, especially in Association of Southeast Asian Nations-related meetings in Manila this August. Both sides also discussed potential areas of future cooperation.
Cayetano also met with other officials of the Japanese government and held a press briefing for the Japan National Press Club at its headquarters.
Japan supports the Mindanao Peace Process through tailored programs and participates in mechanisms for assistance in the region. Japan’s development assistance in Mindanao extends to community development, socio-economic reconstruction, among others.
Among his official engagements in Tokyo, Cayetano delivered a speech at the 23rdNikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia on Tuesday and presented the message of President Duterte and the positive outlook for the Philippines.
He also acknowledged the many challenges and opportunities on the road to the much-awaited “Asian Century.” JAIME R. PILAPIL