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Rody eyes enhanced relations with Japan

TOKYO, Japan – Military planes, development assistance, and lucrative investments.

These are among the big-ticket items that President Duterte may seek to finalize and obtain as he moves to enhance the country’s economic and defense alliance with Japan this week.

After cozying up with China last week, the President will travel to Tokyo today to reaffirm bilateral ties and scale up strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan.

Duterte, regarded an international rock star leader even in Japan, will hold meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Emperor Akihito, and business leaders as part of strengthening ties with the country’s major ally.

According to Philippine Consul General to Japan Marian Jocelyn Ignacio, one of the highlights of the President’s trip is the planned lease of military planes from Japan, which reportedly would be used to safeguard the country’s claims in the disputed South China Sea.

“There’s a lot of interest in defense cooperation so what we are really anticipating right now and what we are very excited about is the possibility that there might be a lease of TC by Japan to the Philippines,” Ignacio said in a media interview.

Ignacio was referring to the five Beechcraft TC-90 training planes the Department of National Defense plans to lease from Japan that could be used as surveillance aircraft.

The proposed accord also involves Japan’s possible commitment to help the Philippines train pilots and aircraft mechanics.

Apart from possible closer defense cooperation, Ignacio said eight lucrative Japanese investments deals might also be finalized during the President’s visit to Tokyo. The signing of the business ventures on manufacturing and agricultural sectors will be witnessed by the President tomorrow.

“He has generated a lot of interest here in Japan and as you are aware, there is a lot of investment by the Japanese in the Philippines so what they want to see is they want to know that the 10-point agenda of the President can be expounded and explained possibly in business terms,” Ignacio said. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)