MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday evening praised the Japanese people for their traits of sincerity and respectfulness, as well as Japan's aid to the Philippines over the years.
He made the remarks at an advance celebration of the birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito in the southern Philippine city of Davao.
According to a transcript of Duterte's speech released to reporters on Friday, the president described his country's ties with the Japanese people and government as "excellent," noting the "long relations with them in industry and business" since "centuries ago."
The Japanese Embassy in Manila organized the celebration for Emperor Akihito's 83rd birthday, which is on Dec. 23, with Duterte as the main guest. Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa was also in attendance.
Duterte missed meeting the emperor during his October visit to Japan because his scheduled courtesy call was cancelled at the last minute following the death of the emperor's uncle.
In his remarks, Duterte pointed out there are many Filipinos of Japanese descent in Davao because many Japanese migrated there more than a century ago.
Addressing Ishikawa, he said, "Your country has done a lot for us, especially Davao. (Japan is) the number one donor (through) JICA. All the nice things you see now, part of it is actually (from the) Japanese, from planning to everything," referring to the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
"I have nothing but deep respect for the Japanese people. And I also love your emperor," he continued.
Describing the Japanese as "the most Oriental of all Orientals," the Philippine leader cited their "outstanding human behavior trait" of being "very sensitive" and "very sincere."
In a toast he offered, Duterte wished Emperor Akihito, the Japanese people and government, and the Filipino-Japanese relationship "long life."