Duterte, Abe to discuss South China Sea issue in Tokyo bilateral meeting
President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to discuss the South China Sea issue at the sidelines of a forum in Tokyo next week, the Department of Foreign Affairs ( DFA) said on Friday.
Duterte is set to embark on his third visit to Japan to attend the 25th Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia on May 30-31 at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo.
"Well, the President’s summit meeting with Prime Minister Abe...this is the 7th since 2016, will be an opportunity for the two leaders to take stock of the progress of our strengthened strategic partnership in such areas as defense and security, economic cooperation, infrastructure development, the entry of Filipino skilled workers to Japan, Japanese assistance for the development of the Bangsamoro region, as well as exchange views on regional issues of mutual concern including the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea," said DFA Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre in a press briefing in Malacanang.
He said the bilateral meeting between the two leaders would take place after Duterte delivers his address at the forum on May 31.
Montealegre noted that peace and stability in the region is a mutual concern to the Philippines and Japan and "the South China Sea is central in this regard."
Both Manila and Tokyo are engaged in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea and East China Sea, respectively.
"So the Philippines for its part has always affirmed its commitment to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight, freedom of commerce and other lawful activities, exercise of self-restraint and the peaceful resolution of disputes," the DFA official said.
He said other Asian leaders who were invited and confirmed to address the Nikkei conference include Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad of Malaysia, Prime Minister Sheik Hasina of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, Prime Minister Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The deputy prime ministers of Vietnam and Singapore will also be in attendance along with ministers from Japan, Brunei, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia, he added.
In his keynote address, Duterte would likely assert Asia’s role in charting its own future even as the Philippines affirmed the larger international frameworks and mechanisms that have given birth through the Asian century the people now enjoy.
"He will likely also highlight how address... (how) domestic imperatives provide the conditions by which we will collectively shape Asia’s future," he said.
He said there are also preparations for the possible meeting of the President with the Filipino community.
No bilateral agreement would be signed during Duterte's trip to Japan, Montealegre said.
Duterte would be accompanied by some members of his Cabinet and some businessmen, he said. Celerina Monte/DMS