MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for him to visit Japan, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The DFA said in a statement that Duterte accepted Abe's invitation during the two leaders' meeting on the sidelines the 28th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Vientiane, Laos today.
During his meeting with Abe, Duterte emphasized that Japan is an old friend and a pre-eminent partner of the Philippines, and that he mentioned that the two countries are ''strategic partners who share common values of mutual respect, cooperation and adherence to the rule of law."
He also thanked Japan for providing assistance to the Philippines through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
''For so many years, JICA has been there. Japan has been kind enough to extend us all the assistance for further development in our country and as a matter of fact, our trade shows that we export more to Japan than before,'' Duterte said.
''We know that Japan is one of our friendly neighbors."
Japan has pledged to give the Philippines surveillance aircraft and patrol ships as the latter deals with an assertive China in the South China Sea.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have rival claims.
An arbitration court in The Hague in July invalidated China's claims to the waterway after a case was brought by the Philippines, a ruling that Beijing refuses to recognize.
Japan's ties with China has been marred by a long-running territorial spat over a group of small islets in the East China Sea.
Abe on Tuesday agreed to provide two large-sized patrol ships and lend up to five used surveillance aircraft to the Philippines.
Japan has already agreed to provide 10 smaller-sized patrol ships to the Philippines.