Japan pledges to assist Philippines reconstruct Marawi

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan stated on Monday it will assist the Philippines rebuild conflict-torn southern Marawi city as well as other infrastructure in a deepening of ties to counter China’s regional impact.

REFILE – QUALITY REPEAT Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (L) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prior to their talks at Abe’s main home in Tokyo, Japan October 30, 2017. REUTERS/Toshifumi Kitamura/Pool

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the promises in a joint statement with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte following talks in Tokyo.

Duterte on Oct 23 revealed completion of 5 months of military operations in Marawi held by Islamic State rebels in a dispute that ruined much of the city’s center and displaced some 300,000 individuals.

“The Government of Japan recognizes that rehab and reconstruction of the City of Marawi and is very crucial,” the statement said.

Japan likewise provided to help with other projects ranging from rail facilities to river defenses consisting of a possible 600 billion yen loan to assist fund development of a train in Manila.

The conference was an opportunity for Abe to discuss security in Asia ahead of key local meetings starting with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Vietnam in November.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe evaluate a guard of honor at Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 30 October 2017. REUTERS/Nicolas Datiche/Pool

“I validated with President Duterte that we are both maritime nations sharing basic values and tactical interests,” Abe stated during his joint announcement with Duterte. The 2 nations, he included, would resolve typical concerns consisting of North Korea and “a complimentary and open Indo-Pacific.”

Japan is concerned about China’s growing power in the South China Sea and sees cooperation with the Philippines, which lies on the waterway’s eastern side, as key ally in assisting avoid Beijing’s influence spreading into the western Pacific.

Duterte, unlike his predecessor, Benigno Aquino, has actually been less important of Beijing’s island building in the South China Sea. The Philippine leader will return house on Tuesday after an audience with the Japanese Emperor.

Abe and Duterte will travel to Vietnam for the two-day APEC conference from Nov 11, which U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend.

Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other nations in the area will satisfy once again in the Philippines after the APEC gathering for the East Asia Top and an event of ASEAN that will be chaired by Philippine’s president.

Duterte in his statement in Tokyo did not point out China, rather calling North Korea to stop its ballistic rocket and nuclear test and return to talks with the United States Japan and other nations.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Modifying by Sanjeev Miglani