MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte will be among 400 heads of states and members of royal families attending the enthronement of Japanese Emperor Naruhito, Malacañang confirmed on Monday.
In a Palace briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte will be attending the Emperor’s enthronement ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22 despite earlier pronouncements that he will be skipping it to prioritize work.
Panelo said Duterte is also scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by the Emperor on the same day of his enthronement and another banquet hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Oct. 23.
Duterte is slated to leave for Tokyo on Monday night (Oct. 21) and will return to the Philippines on Oct. 24, Panelo said.
The Palace official said Duterte will be accompanied by a “lean” delegation but did not name members of the Cabinet who will be joining the trip.
He bared that Duterte decided to attend the Emperor’s enthronement since he believes it is important to honor Japan as an “important partner.”
“The golden age of Philippines-Japan friendship has indeed started to unfold. PRRD, as our Head of State, therefore believes that it is but proper to give honor to an important partner by being present at the enthronement ceremony which is considered by the Japanese to be one of their country’s most momentous events,” Panelo said in a statement.
Panelo pointed out that although the Duterte administration has pursued an independent foreign policy, it greatly values the diplomatic ties between Philippines and Japan.
He said Japan is the Philippines’ second major trading partner and fourth biggest source and market for Philippine tourism.
During Duterte’s third and last visit to Japan last May, Panelo also noted that there were 26 business agreements with an estimated investment value of PHP288 billion (USD5.5 billion) signed, which are projected to create 82,737 jobs in the country.
He said the signing of these business agreements showed Japan’s vote of confidence in the President’s method of governance, and in its country’s economic prospects.
Japan has also been the largest Official Development Assistance (ODA) provider to the Philippines by contributing to infrastructure development, including the Japan-backed Metro Manila subway.
Moreover, Panelo said Japan has also assisted the Philippines in peace and development efforts in Mindanao, such as the rehabilitation of Marawi City.
A report from Nikkei Asian Review said to date, 174 countries accepted the invitations to attend the Emperor’s enthronement according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The list of guests includes Duterte, Prince Charles of the UK, Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, and US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
This will be Duterte’s fourth official trip to Japan. (PNA)