(Toast remarks by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. at the luncheon in honor of H.E. Taro Kono, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, on February 10, 2019 at Marco Polo Hotel, Davao City.)
Your Excellency, Minister Kono, members of the Japanese delegation, and colleagues in government.
That we are receiving you in Davao City makes the occasion doubly auspicious. Davao City has, since the arrival of its first Japanese migrants in 1903, linked our peoples in a shared and happy history. To this day, Davao is regarded as furusato — hometown — by many Japanese. I asked my kinfolk who are Japanese and Filipino to join me.
It was in the spirit of this long-standing bond that we held our productive discussions this morning. In the same spirit we partake of Philippine cuisine — food is central aspect to the Filipino way of honoring guests and sealing friendships. Gathered at this table we honor the friendship between our two peoples — a friendship that survived a difficult chapter in our history and right off started another chapter of swift reconciliation, of turning our faces forward to the future rather than back to the past; and thereby established the strongest friendship between two nations in our region.
The firm ground on which that relationship stands — of shared values, mutual help and a track record of mutually-beneficial cooperation — leaves me convinced that our Strategic Partnership has entered a “golden age,” to borrow the words of President Durterte.
As a further testament of Japan’s generous friendship, would you kindly bring Yuzuru Hanyu, the Olympic figure skating champion, to our country? We have ice skating rinks in SM malls all over. Truly, please.
It now gives me the greatest pleasure to propose a toast: To the good health, happiness and continued success of Your Excellency and His Excellency Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; to further successes in our Strategic Partnership; and the lasting friendship of the people of the Philippines and the people of Japan. Kampai!