Davao preparing for visit of Japan’s Abe by Edith Regalado (The Philippine Star)
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Local authorities here are honing their skills, including in flower arrangement, in preparation for the arrival of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as part of his state visit to the Philippines next month.
Abe’s visit, tentatively set for the second week of January, reportedly includes a trip to President Duterte’s hometown aside from the usual honors at Malacañang.
Abe’s upcoming trip would be a reciprocation of Duterte’s state visit to Tokyo last October.
“The Japanese officials who came here were so particular about the flowers that would be used to welcome the Prime Minister,” a source told The STAR.
A Japanese Air Force jet arrived here four days ago in what was called a “probing flight” to test the landing instruments, measurement of the runway and other details at the airport.
The “probing” arrangement was reportedly carried out between the Japanese Defense Ministry and the Presidential Protocol Office.
The President, in almost all his speeches, mentions Davao City as his showcase of the trademark Duterte governance.
The President had been mayor of this city for 23 years and three years each as vice mayor and first district representative, separately.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfector Yasay Jr. confirmed Abe’s scheduled visit to Davao City, pointing out that there was a large concentration of Japanese soldiers and traders here during the Japanese occupation.
In fact, Davao City used to be known as the “Little Tokyo” of the Philippines, as shown in the various landmarks and historical markers depicting the Japanese occupation all over the city.
Davao was said to be home to many Japanese migrants in the early 20th century, most of whom were engaged in farming abaca or Manila hemp.
Davao City and Mindanao in general are beneficiaries of many Japanese-funded projects, most of which were aimed at alleviating poverty and consolidating peace in the south.
Mindanao reportedly gets the biggest chunk of Japanese development aid to the Philippines, through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
Meanwhile, six Philippine Navy (PN) aviators are now training in Japan to fly TC90 patrol planes, five of which type of aircraft are on lease from Tokyo and set for delivery in the first quarter of the coming year.
Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla, spokesman of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) supervises the Navy aviators’ training program at Tokushima Air Base in Tokushima Prefecture. – With Jaime Laude