President Aquino returns home after fruitful Japan trip

HIROSHIMA, Japan, June 25 (PNA) — President Benigno S. Aquino III returned to Manila Tuesday night following his one-day working visit to Japan, where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, addressed a peace seminar and visited a memorial for wartime victims in Hiroshima.

During their meeting, President Aquino and Prime Minister Abe exchanged views on current developments in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and the East China Sea.

The President said the Philippines wants to advance the defense and security dialogue with Japan to boost its cooperation with its closest Asian strategic ally.

He noted that the agreement with Japan will not necessarily be similar to the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the United States, but it will address the Philippines’ needs during emergencies.

On the West Philippine Sea issue, the President told his Japanese counterpart about the Philippines’ move to push for the strict observance of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to which claimant countries and China agreed in 2002.

He expressed hope that the ASEAN and China immediately agree on a binding Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

After the summit meeting, President Aquino proceeded to Hiroshima to address the Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao Conference, where he renewed his commitment to bring lasting peace to Southern Philippines after the signing of an accord with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front last March.

He said his administration will work hard to ensure an orderly and democratic election in Mindanao in 2016.

At the same time, he thanked the countries and organizations that helped the Philippine government and the MILF agree on a peace pact.

He expressed his gratitude to the US, Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Norway, Libya, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, and the European Union.

He also thanked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for its continuing efforts for development and stability in Mindanao.

After the conference, the President led a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to remember the victims of the nuclear attack in Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

The President and his delegation left Hiroshima at about 8:45 p.m. and arrived in Manila at midnight. (PNA)