Tokyo, Japan — President Rodrigo Roa Duterte shared a light moment with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the official dinner hosted by the Japanese premier at Prime Minister’s Residence on Monday, October 30.
In his remarks, President Duterte said he was “truly honored and humbled” to join Abe and his wife, Akie Abe, at the dinner.
“While this is my second Official Visit to Tokyo, I must tell you that my personal interest and excitement over this trip has not diminished,” Duterte said.
“I thank Prime Minister Abe and Madame Akie Abe for hosting this evening’s reunion between friends,” he added.
He noted that the official dinner, which capped the President’s first day in Japan, was an opportunity for them to “look back not only on a most productive day but also to consider the many things we have accomplished together to advance the Philippines and Japan Strategic Partnership since 2016”.
The Chief Executive said the Philippines and Japan are now entering a “golden age of strategic partnership” as both sides have agreed to further strengthen cooperation in various areas of mutual concern.
He said the frequency of interaction between him and Abe has formed a friendship that “goes beyond official lines”.
“It is a friendship that is held dearly and valued so much more than words can describe,” he said.
“Excellency, I will strive to keep that friendship, amity and cooperation between us, our nations and our peoples going from strength to further strength,” he added.
For his part, Abe said he “wholeheartedly” welcomes Duterte in Japan for his second official visit.
He recalled his visit to Duterte’s home province Davao City last January expressing his utmost appreciation to the “gracious hospitality” extended to him by the President’s family.
“Literally, we have been like family in deepening our close ties over time and I am very pleased with such warm relationship,” he said.
“I was truly impressed by the rousing welcome extended to me and my wife and my delegation,” he added.
“The video clip featuring my stay in Davao City we put on the Prime Minister’s Facebook account page actually marked over 1.3 million access counts, the greatest ever. I had to confess that 90 percent of those who actually saw this web page were actually all of the Filipino people across the globe, so only 10 percent account for those of us in Japanese. So I would like to encourage Japanese to pay more attention to my Facebook account,” he recounted drawing laughter from the audience.
“But I truly believe that the total of 1.3 million access counts were the testament to the deep, warm, family-like and brotherly relationship between Japan and the Philippines,” he said.
Abe then expressed his full support to Duterte for the latter’s Chairmanship of the ASEAN this year.
“There are only two weeks before the President chairs the ASEAN Related Summit Meetings this year. And I’m truly appreciative of the facts that President Duterte came all the way from the Philippines to Japan despite the busy schedule,” he said.
Abe revealed that he invited many distinguished leaders representing various fields such as political, business and cultural at the dinner, who have contributed to the promotion of “invaluable friendship” between Japan and the Philippines.
“Taking this opportunity, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation and ask for your continuous support as we further develop this special relationship,” he said.
He then proposed a toast for good health and great success of President Duterte and for further development of friendly and cooperative relationship between the peoples of Philippines and Japan.