President Duterte visits Japanese Escort Flotilla in Subic

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — President Rodrigo Duterte visited on Sunday, June 4, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Escort Flotilla One comprised of helicopter carrier JS Izumo and guided missile destroyer JS Sazanami berthed here for a four-day port visit to the Philippines.

In an interview with media, President Duterte said he was happy to board the JS Izumo, noting the state-of-the-art ship that can respond to both conflict and humanitarian missions.

Duterte added that he is the first head of state to board the JS Izumo,  which was commissioned in 2015.

Japan has been a historical friend of the Philippines helping the country in different ways particularly through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Japan is also providing the Philippines with defense assets such as ships and trainer planes, he said.

“Our ties with Japan is historical and I know that we will be with them for all time. They can count on our gratitude for helping us and also our friendship to fight with them,” he told reporters.

“We have so many problems in this world and I said we are friends, historical ones. We have a lot to say thank you to you. And I’d like Japan to know that we are a people of gratitude,” he added.

Aside from visiting JS Izumo, the President also met Katsuyuki Kawai aboard the Japanese helicopter carrier. Kawai is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s special adviser.

The Japanese contingent is headed by Rear Admiral Yoshihiro Goka, the commander of the JMSDF Escort Flotilla One. The JS Izumo together with several patrol helicopters and 800 officers and crews are here for a goodwill visit to the Philippines prior to its participation to the Malabar Naval exercise in India.

The four-day visit includes a series of confidence building activities between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF personnel.

The Escort Flotilla One’s port visit is expected to enhance the strong relationship between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF. ###PND