The Japanese Prime Minister has arrived in Manila for a two-day visit.
It is Shinzo Abe’s first stop in a four-nation tour.
The Japanese leader wants to boost his country’s trade and security engagements, particularly in the context of China’s rise to Asian dominance.
Where else is Abe going?
Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Is the visit significant?
Abe is the first national leader to visit since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in June.
Commentators say it is an important affirmation of Duterte’s leadership at a time when he faces domestic and international criticism for a brutal crackdown on illegal drugs that has claimed more than 6,000 lives.
What will Abe and Duterte discuss??
The two sides plan to sign agreements to bolster cooperation in agriculture, infrastructure and security.
Japan is now among the top trading partners of the Philippines and is also one of its largest aid providers.
Tokyo has also provided patrol ships to help the Philippines protect its territory, amid longstanding territorial rifts with China.
Japan also says it is ready to finance a major railway project in the south, where Duterte hails from.
China has also pledged help.
After Manila, Abe will travel to southern Davao city, Duterte’s hometown.
Duterte will host breakfast for the Japanese premier at his home.
Is this the first time they have met?
Duterte visited Japan in October.
He and Abe agreed to cooperate in promoting regional peace and stability.
Both acknowledged the importance of their alliances with Washington.
Around two dozen activists, led by four women who were forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops in the Second World War, protested outside the Japanese embassy in Manila.
87-year-old Narcisa Claveria said she and other women were treated like “pigs” by Japanese troops during the war.
She says many fellow victims died without getting justice.
It is not clear whether the women’s demand would be raised by Duterte in his talks with Abe.
What they are saying
“Japan is one of our strongest friends and ally and partner in this part of the world and we value this friendship,” Foreign Secretary of the Philippines Perfecto Yasay Jr said ahead of the visit.
“Shinzo Abe, end the issue of women now. You are meeting again with the president, will you bring the forces of aggression here again? Are you going to make women here like pigs again?” – protester Narcisa Claveria
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