Duterte to discuss South China Sea with Japan’s Abe

In this Nov. 15, 2018 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold a bilateral meeting at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre in Singapore. Presidential Photo/Karl Norman Alonzo. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, May 24, 2019, PhilStar. President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to discuss matters of defense and security, such as the South China Sea dispute. Duterte has been invited to the annual Nikkei Conference on the Future of Asia next week. This will be his third visit to Japan since assuming office in 2016, reported the Philippine Star.

The two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Nikkei forum in Tokyo on May 31. This will be their seventh meeting, the last one was in November 2018 at the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

“This will be an opportunity for both leaders to take stock of the progress of our strengthened strategic partnership in Japan in broad areas of our cooperation,” Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Meynardo Montealegre said in a press briefing.

According to Montealegre, Duterte and Abe will exchange views on regional issues of mutual concern, including the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea.

The peace and stability in the region, particularly the South China Sea, is an issue of mutual concern for both the Philippines and Japan, the DFA official said.

“The Philippines, for its part, has always affirmed its commitment to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and overflight, freedom of commerce and other lawful activities exercise of self-restraint and the peaceful resolution of disputes,” Montealegre said.

The Philippine Navy recently joined warships from Japan, India and the United States in a quadrilateral cooperative naval drill in the South China Sea, part of which is the West Philippine Sea.

Navy spokesman Capt. Jonathan Zata clarified that the joint naval exercise earlier this month was not directed to any country in the region.

While Japan is not a claimant to the South China Sea, Tokyo and Beijing also have overlapping claims over the extent of their exclusive economic zones in the East China Sea.

Patricia Lourdes Viray

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