Philippine president ends visit to Japan with blistering remarks against ally

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/10/28 8:44:42

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wrapped up his visit to Japan on Thursday, seeking economic support from Tokyo but still vexing its long-time ally of US with his blistering remarks.

During Duterte's three-day visit, Japan and the Philippines have agreed to enhance cooperation, with Tokyo in an apparent effort to woo Manila back to "the US-Japan camp."

The two sides signed a series of cooperation documents, including Japan offering yen loans to improve the Philippines's maritime safety capabilities and help it revitalize agriculture business.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed his intention to deepen cooperation with Manila in fighting terrorism, said Japan would provide high-speed boats and other equipment to enhance the Philippines' anti-terrorism capabilities.

For his part, the Philippine leader pledged a peaceful solution to the South China Sea issue, upholding in general his stance expressed earlier during his visit to China.

Duterte has reached consensus with the Chinese leaders during his tour to Beijing, which is focused on cooperation and bringing the South China Sea issue back to the correct track of bilateral negotiation and consultation.

He said at the Philippine Economic Forum in Tokyo Wednesday that the Philippines would pursue an independent foreign policy.

"I want friendship of everybody," he said, adding that he looked to "be friends with China."

He also told a press conference after his meeting with Abe that he would seek peaceful settlement of maritime disputes including the South China Sea issue.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing in Beijing Thursday that Duterte's recent remarks during his visit to Japan accord with the consensus he reached with Chinese leaders during his China visit last week.

Besides the South China Sea issue, the outspoken Philippine leader also baffled Japan with his comments on the United States.

According to local reports, Japan had hoped to bring the Philippines back to "the US-Japan camp" through direct communication with the president during his stay in Japan.

However, Duterte continued to voice his dissatisfaction with Washington. "I want to prove to everybody, the Philippines has a dignity," he said, reiterating that the United States treated his country like "a dog on a leash."

He also wanted all foreign military troops out of the Philippines "probably in the next two years."

Mentioning the US colonial control of the Philippines over half a century, Duterte said he would pursue an independent foreign policy and the Philippines will "survive" without US assistance.

Former Philippine president Benigno Aquino III signed an Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US in 2014, which allowed the return of US troops to the Philippines after the country expelled US soldiers in the 1990s.

Duterte, who took office in June, has reportedly talked about abrogating defense agreements with the US over the past two months.

"For Japan, it would be wiser not to bring up too much the US-Philippine relationship," said Lully Miura, a scholar on international relations at the University of Tokyo.

"Instead, it would be better to focus more on the Japan-Philippine relationship, as the relationships between the three countries are very complicated right now," she said.

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