MANILA-- President Rodrigo Duterte's administration is committed to boosting ties with Japan, his spokesperson said Thursday as the Philippines congratulated the East Asian nation's new leader Yoshihide Suga.
The Philippine government is ready to work with Suga, who replaced Shinzo Abe after the latter resigned as prime minister late last month because of ill health, said Harry Roque, Duterte's spokesperson.
"The Duterte Administration is ready to work with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in further strengthening the strategic bilateral cooperation, building on the special relationship established with former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo," Roque said in a Palace press briefing.
Roque reiterated that the Philippines considers Japan as a "friend closer than a brother."
"We are committed to do everything to make these ties move from strength to the greater strength," he said.
Duterte had a "warm and productive" 25-minute phone call on Sept. 7 with Abe, where the Philippine leader thanked his Japanese counterpart for Japan's help in various areas such as infrastructure and defense.
Duterte welcomed Abe in his home in Davao City in January 2017.