Duterte grateful for sustained PHL-Japan ties under Haneda’s stint

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday thanked outgoing Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda on his successful tour of duty, saying the Philippines and Japan enjoyed “sustained” high-level exchanges under his stint. 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu on outgoing Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines Koji Haneda who paid a farewell call on the President at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on November 10, 2020. KING RODRIGUEZ/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

In a statement from the Office of the President (OP), Duterte conferred on Haneda the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross), Gold Distinction.

He thanked Haneda’s valuable contributions in strengthening and deepening the strategic partnership and overall bilateral relations between the Philippines and Japan since he assumed the post in 2017.

“During Ambassador Haneda’s tenure, the Philippines and Japan enjoyed sustained high-level exchanges. President Duterte undertook four official visits to Japan since 2016, while former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo visited the Philippines twice in 2017,” the OP said.

Abe was the first head of state to visit the country after Duterte assumed office in 2016.

Under Haneda’s stint, the OP said Manila and Tokyo likewise enhanced their cooperation in infrastructure, education, transportation, maritime security, emergency assistance, and trade and investments.

“Japan remains a major partner of the administration’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and a key supporter of the Mindanao peace process, ongoing transition to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and rehabilitation of Marawi City,” it added.

Duterte likewise conveyed his appreciation for Japan’s generous and consistent support in the Philippines’ fight against the prevailing pandemic through aid in emergency response and economic recovery efforts and the Philippines’ inclusion in the clinical trials of Avigan as a potential treatment for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Haneda reaffirmed the value of the Philippines-Japan strategic partnership while citing gains made in stronger cooperation, particularly in infrastructure, maritime domain awareness, countryside development, and the peace process in Mindanao.

He thanked Duterte for all the assistance as policy guidance supported through Cabinet secretaries and vowed to always be a “true friend of the Philippines.”

Haneda also recalled his many warm memories and the great strides achieved by the Philippines since he began his foreign service career, which started with his first foreign posting in Manila and ended likewise in the Philippines.

Last July, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Haneda exchanged diplomatic notes on the 50-billion Japanese yen (approximately PHP23.13 billion) loan assistance package extended by the Japanese government to support the Philippines’ Covid-19 emergency response, as well as related social protection, relief, and economic recovery stimulus measures.

The Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan is to be co-financed by the Asian Development Bank’s Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support program, as well as other development partners.

Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Motegi Toshimitsu had personally affirmed his country’s commitment to extending this assistance to Locsin in their telephone discussion on May 22.

The package is consistent with Japan’s pledge to assist the Philippines and the larger Asean region in recovering from the impact of Covid-19, and building public health and economic resilience against future such emergencies.

Japan has been the Philippines’ top official development assistance partner for decades. PNA.GOV.PH