Sara leads opening of Japan consul in Davao’s ‘Little Tokyo’

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Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Taro Kono and Mayor Sara Duterte led the breaking of sake Sunday evening to mark the opening of the Japan Consulate-General in this city, which is seen to further bolster close ties between the Philippines and Japan.

Kono noted the historic connection of Japan and Davao, which was then home to many Japanese even before World War II.

Davao’s Barangay Mintal was then known as “Little Tokyo”, where Japanese families engaged in abaca plantation. Many of their descendants still live here.

While noting that history was not at all rosy when Davao became one of the battlefields in World War II, Kono said the Philippine-Japan friendship “is built upon the sacrifices of the people who came before the current generation.”

“I believe it is up to us in the current generation to deepen the wonderful friendship. Our friendship is precious that is why Japan stands by the Philippines and Mindanao for its sustainable development,” he said.

Kono noted the consistent support that the Japanese government has provided in the Mindanao peace process, recalling that Japan hosted the secret meeting of then President Benigno Aquino III and Al-Hajj Murad Ebrahim, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

“We will continue to support the peace process in Mindanao together with you hand-in-hand,” he said.

Kono earlier on Sunday met with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to affirm the construction of a 150-kilometer road and 40 bridges worth PHP24 billion.

Japan is funding the project through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which will provide a loan of USD202 million for the project.

Locsin also lauded the inauguration of the Japanese consulate as it “demonstrates Japan’s enduring commitment to Mindanao.”

Japan is the number one source of Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), the second biggest trading market, the country’s largest, and the fourth largest tourism market.

Mayor Sara, on the other hand, praised the Japanese government for recognizing the Japan consular office as full-fledged consulate-general in the city.

From the establishment of the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai, Japanese international school in Davao, and the Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku, an international college institution in Davao, to the Little Tokyo in Mintal, Mayor Sara said the Japanese imprints have become more vivid across the landscape of Davao City.

Sara said the long-standing friendship between Davao City and Japan has already gone to great lengths from tourism to environmental protection to poverty alleviation.

“The establishment of this consulate-general office reflects how Japan hospitality is built. We thank you for your confidence placed in us,” she said. (PNA)