MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte flew to Japan Sunday evening for a two-day official visit, where he is set to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other high-ranking officials.
Before leaving the Philippines, Duterte said he will be seeking assistance from Japan in rebuilding Marawi City, which has been heavily damaged after 5 months of fighting with Maute terrorists.
"The damage alone and the dimension of the destruction would tell Japan that we need their very best in their assistance," said Duterte, adding that he is hoping for "significant assistance" from Japan.
Duterte's second trip to Japan, which he considers "the Philippines' true friend," was initially scheduled last June but was postponed due to the crisis in Marawi.
Combat operations only ceased in the Mindanao city after five months of fighting between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists, leaving a large part of Marawi in ruins.
The Marawi crisis has also left at least 1,000 people dead, mostly terrorists, and thousands of residents displaced.
"The failure to rehabilitate Marawi could have grave consequences for Mindanao and for the entire country," Duterte warned.
The other topics that will be discussed in Duterte's two-day visit to Japan include infrastructure development, the Mindanao peace process, the anti-illegal drugs campaign and security and counter-terrorism measures.
The President is also expected to have an audience with the Emperor and Empress of Japan in the afternoon, before he departs for Davao on Tuesday evening.
Duterte's visit comes as both leaders prepare to attend the APEC Summit in Vietnam as well as the 31st ASEAN Summit which will be hosted by the Philippines in Manila.