Duterte to reschedule trip to Japan as he won't push with early June visit: Cayetano
President Rodrigo Duterte will not proceed with his scheduled visit to Japan early June as it will be rescheduled due to a rebellion going on in Marawi City involving the Islamic State-linked Maute Terror Group, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday night.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, who issued the statement, said it was "not an easy decision for the president given the close friendship and deep relations between the Philippines and Japan."
Duterte was supposed to visit Japan to address the 23rd Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia on May 5 to 6.
“In light of recent developments in Marawi City and Mindanao, the President needs to personally oversee the situation to ensure the safety and security of our people,” Cayetano said.
He noted the Philippine and Japanese governments agreed there will be a better time for Duterte to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe where both are expected to strengthen their bilateral relations and engage in various areas of cooperation based on mutually beneficial partnership.
The lines of communication between the DFA and its Japanese counterpart continue to be active in connection with the event.
Cayetano thanked the Japanese government and the organizers of the conference for their consideration and understanding.
“We are optimistic that once the security issues in Mindanao will have been settled, and the local rebellion in Mindanao fully addressed, the visit of President Duterte can be rescheduled,” he said.
While thanking the Japanese government and the conference organizers for their understanding, Cayetano expressed his apologies because there are unavoidable circumstances that require the president’s "undivided attention."
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao for 60 days when Maute Group started attacking and occupying Marawi City on May 23.
Duterte first visited Japan in October last year upon Abe's invitation. Celerina Monte/DMS