Japan's Kishida, Philippines' next leader Marcos vow to beef up ties

Kyodo News

Posted at May 20 2022 03:04 PM | Updated as of May 20 2022 05:20 PM

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at the Prime Minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, May 9, 2022. Jiji Press Japan/EPA-EFE
Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at the Prime Minister's office in Tokyo, Japan, May 9, 2022. Jiji Press Japan/EPA-EFE

TOKYO (UPDATE) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine presumptive president Ferdinand Marcos Jr. agreed Friday to work together to strengthen bilateral ties toward peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific.

The 2 also confirmed that they will meet in person as soon as possible, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a press release issued after their 15-minute phone call.

Kishida said he wants to closely cooperate with Marcos toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, according to the ministry. 

The initiative has been promoted by Japan and the United States and is widely seen as a counter to China's growing military and economic clout in the region.

Marcos said that relationship with Tokyo is extremely important for Manila, expressing his hope to ramp up cooperation with Kishida in various fields, according to the ministry.

In a post on social media, the Philippines' incoming President thanked the Japanese leader "for his warm congratulatory message via a phone call this morning."

"The partnership of Japan and the Philippines has been one of mutual benefit to our two countries and I hope not only to continue but to increase all of our engagements in every aspect of our relations," he said.

This marked the first time that Marcos had talked with Kishida after the son and namesake of the late Philippine dictator won a landslide victory in the May 9 presidential election. Marcos is assumed to take office on June 30, amid a disqualification case filed against him at the Supreme Court.

Marcos is likely to continue incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte's infrastructure program, foreign borrowing and friendly approach to China as a means to help the Philippine economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, despite a territorial dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea.

Kishida also pledged to continue its ongoing economic and security support for the Philippines such as building infrastructure.

"Prime Minister Kishida expressed his wish for future close coordination with President-elect Marcos for the realization of a 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific,' and the two leaders concurred on future coordination to realize regional peace and prosperity," a press release from the Japan Embassy in Manila read.

"The two leaders concurred on holding an in-person meeting as early as possible and deepening the discussion going forward."

Earlier this week, Marcos Jr. also received congratulatory phone calls from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jin Ping.

In his conversation with Xi, Marcos Jr. said that China and the Philippines "must not allow what conflicts or difficulties we have now between our two countries to become historically important."

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- with a report from Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News