The Philippines commissioned on Wednesday one of 10 multi-role ships provided by Japan earlier this year, formally including it among the fleet of the country's coast guard.
During a commissioning ceremony at the Philippine Coast Guard Headquarters in Manila, attended by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa, the 44-meter long ship, christened the "BRP Tubbataha," was officially inducted into the Philippine arsenal.
In his speech at the event, Duterte said the ships were sorely needed to help patrol the 7,000-plus islands. He also expressed his thanks to Japan through its ambassador, saying the two countries have a long history of friendship and cooperation.
The Philippine president is scheduled to pay a state visit to Japan from October 25 to 27.
Ishikawa, for his part, recounted the 60 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Japan, saying that the strong friendship between the two countries has been elevated to a higher level since the visit of Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in January.
"I boarded the Tubbataha last month and I am convinced that the Tubbataha is a great symbol of friendship between Japan and the Philippines," Ishikawa added, saying that Japan will continue to work with the Philippines to deepen their relations.
Manufactured by Japan Marine United Corp., the BRP Tubbataha was acquired by the Philippines with the help of an official development assistance loan of P7.37 billion ($152 million) from Japan.
Philippine Coastguard spokesman, Cmdr. Armando Balilo, told Kyodo News that the second ship is scheduled to sail to the Philippines in December and that at least one of the remaining ships will be arriving in the Philippines in every quarter of the succeeding years.