MANILA, Philippines - Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Manila late Wednesday at the beginning of a six-day tour that will also take him to Singapore, Brunei and Australia.
Kishida is to meet with Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario in Manila on Thursday to discuss bilateral relations as well as regional issues and the foreign policy priorities of the new Japanese leadership.
Territorial disputes with China in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are also expected to be discussed in their meetings, Philippine officials said.
"We're very happy to be able to have this opportunity to broaden, deepen and enhance our relationship," del Rosario said at a press conference. "And we are looking forward to these discussions that we will have, which would be very comprehensive in nature."
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that Kishida's visit "is an opportunity for both countries to advance the Philippines-Japan Strategic Partnership under the new Japanese administration."
"Japan is one of only two strategic partners of the Philippines and is one of the most important economic partners in terms of trade, investments and development assistance," the statement added.
Kishida's trip is his first overseas since being appointed foreign minister last month in the Cabinet of new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
On Friday, Kishida will leave for Singapore to meet his Singaporean counterpart K. Shanmugan before flying to Brunei on Saturday for a meeting with Prince Mohamed Bolkiah in Bandar Seri Begawan.
He is scheduled to hold talks with Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr in Sydney on Sunday, the Japanese foreign ministry said.
"This visit offers an opportunity for close communication with each country at foreign ministerial level, which will strengthen the bilateral relations in a wide range of areas," the statement said.
No Japanese foreign minister has visited the Philippines since July 2006 or Brunei since June 2005.
Kishida's predecessor Koichiro Gemba visited Singapore in October 2011 and Australia in September last year.