Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said Tuesday he will visit Manila to attend Philippine President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s inauguration ceremony later this week.
Hayashi is also scheduled to hold meetings with Marcos and incoming Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte, during his planned three-day trip to the Southeast Asian nation through Friday, he told reporters.
Hayashi's attendance at Thursday's inauguration comes as Tokyo aims to build a close relationship with the new Philippine administration amid China's growing maritime assertiveness in the East and South China seas, where Tokyo and Manila are respectively challenged by Beijing's territorial claims.
"We will make sure of our cooperation toward the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and further strengthen bilateral relations," Hayashi said, calling the Philippines a "strategic partner sharing basic values and strategic interests" with Japan.
Hayashi will be the first Japanese foreign minister to attend a Philippine presidential inauguration since 2004 when Yoriko Kawaguchi was among the dignitaries.