Richard Javad Heydarian
It’s the aggressive rise of China, and the fear that it’s instilling across the region, that is driving Tokyo and Manila closer together.
The Golden Era of Japan-Philippine Relations Has Arrived
“Japan is a friend closer than a brother. That means Japan is a friend unlike any other,” Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte once described his relationship with Asia’s other juggernaut. “Ours is a special friendship whose value is beyond any measure,” he added. The controversial Filipino leader echoed the same sentiment during his latest visit to Tokyo, the third in less than three years, where he emphasized Japan comes second to none in his estimate.
As far as foreign policy is concerned, Duterte is often seen though the prism of his anti-Western tirades, unprecedented cussing against American leaders, age-old anti-colonial rhetoric, and, above all, his supposed pivot to China, which has sent shockwaves across the world. After all, this is the same president that declared his “separation” from the Washington and “love” for Beijing. What’s often missing in this binary discourse, however, is the third pole in Duterte’s foreign policy calculus, namely Japan.