Japan PM offers PH drug war support

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MANILA: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered support for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial drug war on Thursday as the pair met in Manila for talks that also focused on territorial disputes with China.

Abe’s two-day visit to the Philippines is the first by a foreign leader since Duterte took office in the middle of last year, highlighting Japan’s importance as the Southeast Asian nation’s top trading partner and foreign aid donor.

Abe is also intent on maintaining Japan’s strong ties with the Philippines as Duterte shakes up his nation’s foreign policy with a shift away from the United States, both nations’ longtime ally, in favor of China and Russia.

The trip began with a warm welcome by Duterte at the presidential palace, with the Philippine leader then winning much sought-after backing for his drug war that has claimed about 6,000 lives and raised concerns of mass extrajudicial killings.


President Rodrigo Duterte (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) inspect an honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the Malacañan Palace in Manila on Thursday. AFP PHOTO

“On countering illegal drugs, we want to work together with the Philippines to think of relevant measures of support,” Abe said afterwards, according to an interpreter.

Abe said Japan would help with unspecified drug “facilities” and treatment programs.

Duterte, who has railed against US President Barack Obama and European politicians for criticizing his drug war, highlighted Abe’s offers of support.

“As the Philippines pursues its campaign to destroy the illegal drug trade apparatus, we welcome the expression of interest of Japan to support measures to address the tremendous social cost of drug addiction,” Duterte said.

Duterte won last year’s elections in a landslide after vowing that 100,000 people would be killed in an unprecedented crackdown against illegal drugs.

Since then police have reported killing 2,180 people in anti-drug operations. More than 3,000 others have been killed in unexplained circumstances, according to official figures.

Often masked assailants break into shanty homes and kill people who have been tagged as drug traffickers or drug users. Rights groups have warned of a breakdown in the rule of law with police and hired assassins operating with complete impunity.

While using foul language to hit back at Obama and other critics, Duterte has praised the leaders of China and Russia for “not interfering” in his drug war.

Trade between Japan and the Philippines was worth $18 billion in 2015, according to official figures, and Abe said Thursday he was committed to more.

Security tensions

With a severely under-equipped military and coast guard, the Philippines has also looked to Japan to boost maritime security as the two nations face separate sea disputes with China.

Japan and China are locked in a long-running row over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, while Manila and Beijing have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Japan last year gave the Philippines two large patrol vessels and said it would lease training aircraft, on top of 10 coast guard ships that Tokyo pledged to Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino 3rd.

However unlike Aquino, Duterte has played down the maritime dispute with China while focusing on economic concessions and Chinese help in his drug war.

Abe said Thursday he welcomed Duterte’s overtures to China, but emphasised the South China Sea was a concern for all nations in the region.

“The issue of the South China Sea is linked directly to regional peace and stability, and is of concern to the entire international community,” Abe said.

Abe will on Thursday night travel to Duterte’s home town of Davao in the southern region of Mindanao, where Japan has supported the peace process with Muslim rebels through development and poverty eradication programs. AFP

 

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2 Comments

  1. A short prayer:

    Father God! I thank You for the friendship we made with Japan. I thank You for making Philippine a Czar of Peace. Thank You for the wisdom You have bestowed upon the hearts and mind of our leaders. I speak blessing and wellness to the land of The Rising Sun. For they are our brothers too. I speak blessing, good health, bountiful welfare and protection to their Leaders and citizens of this nation.

    May You create a big-big noise in their land and it is the clanging chimes of Your glory and salvation. Thank You that You have raised this nation to be our friend for a purpose. Seal a lasting friendship with them and the rest of Nation in the world with Philippines.

    May our leaders join hands and do mighty exploits for the love of life and for the good of many. But all the works of evil will be trampled down to the ground in Jesus Name!

    And for the Nations who chose You and Your righteousness –Blessing and protection will be their portion!

    Mabuhay ka Japan!

    In Jesus most precious name I pray! Amen!

  2. Why get news from Agence France Presse (AFP) instead of using your own journalists? I was already wondering if Manila Times has turned yellow with the mention of 6,000 deaths (the breakdown was mentioned much later and then using unexplained deaths instead of unidentified assailants). Then there is the invented info that it is often the case that masked assailants enter into shanty homes and shoot at people. Duh, most are riding in tandem killings which have been happening for a long time already. AFP stop inventing and Manila Times, please don’t get news from AFP.