MANILA – Japan will discuss with President Rodrigo Duterte his foreign policy when he visits Japan next week for an official visit, a Japanese official said, in the wake of the firebrand leader's announcement of his split with the US.
In his strongest words so far against the US, Duterte said he is “separating” from the Philippines’ long-term ally and align instead with China and Russia.
Duterte’s latest anti-US remark, which was made while he is on a state visit in China, is seen as a diplomatic victory for Beijing, Tokyo and Washington’s common rival.
In a news conference, Japan's deputy chief of mission in Manila Atsushi Ueno said Duterte’s foreign policy will certainly be one of the topics when the Filipino leader visits Japan next week.
"We will discuss. We like to listen to what President Duterte has to say, explain to our leaders about the foreign policy of his administration,” Ueno said.
Japan has been seeking to establish closer ties with the Philippines as it handles its dispute with China over the East China Sea.
The Philippines has a separate maritime dispute with China over the South China Sea, but a pragmatic Duterte has been downplaying this feud in the hopes of getting trade deals and bigger aid from China.
A possible break in US-Philippines ties would complicate Japan’s efforts to counterbalance Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.
The US values freedom of navigation in the South China Sea sea, while Japan, even if it has no claims to the disputed sea, views the unimpeded access of vessels to the sea as vital to its economy.
The White House, meanwhile, said Manila has not yet officially asked to end any security or economic ties. - report from Christian Esguerra, ABS-CBN News