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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived on Thursday, January 12 for a two-day official visit in the Philippines.

On board an official plane, Abe and his wife Madame Akie Abe arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at 2:55 p.m..

Abe, the first head of state to visit the country under Duterte presidency, and his wife received a red carpet welcome from Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Charge d’Affairs of Philippines to Tokyo Eduardo Martin Menez.

From the airport, Abe proceeded to the Malacanang Palace where the visiting Japanese leader received a warm welcome from President Rodrigo Duterte.

After the traditional signing of the guest book, Abe and Duterte are set to hold summit meeting and expanded meeting with Japan and Philippines business delegates.

Abe described being the first leader to visit Duterte as a “tremendous honor”.

“I chose the Philippines as my first destination this year and that is testament to my primary emphasis on our bilateral relationship,” he said in addressing the meeting.

He will travel to Duterte’s native city of Davao on Friday, during which he and his wife will visit Duterte’s family home.

In Davao City, Abe is set to meet business leaders and to visit President Duterte’s house and a Japanese school Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku on Friday.

The Japanese Prime Minister’s visit is his third to the Philippines, having visited the country in 2013 and in 2015 when he attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. During the term of Benigno Aquino III last year, Japan also donated patrol ships to the Philippines as symbol of strong partnership between two countries.

The visit is in response to President Duterte’s invitation in October last year when the Filipino leader visited Tokyo.

President Duterte’s ‘productive’ visit in Japan yielded a total of 12 business agreements worth USD1.8 billion or roughly PHP86.4 billion.

Abe’s visit includes pledges worth JPY 1 trillion (PHP 434 billion) in development aid to the Philippines and help its partner overhaul its infrastructure as the two countries seek ways to further strengthen bilateral ties.

He also supports Duterte’s war against drugs and rehabilitation for drug dependents, and ties with China for peaceful resolution of maritime issues.

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