Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Saturday expressed his determination to lead the world "toward cooperation rather than division and confrontation," as he vowed to deepen relations with the Philippines.

Kishida also emphasized the importance of realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific in his speech at the parliament of the Philippines, while outlining the future direction of cooperation between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

To avoid dividing the international community, already facing complex challenges, it is essential to build a peaceful and stable world in which everyone can "live with dignity," Kishida said, adding achieving a free and open Indo-Pacific is necessary to that end.

In a speech during his visit to India in March, Kishida announced a new plan to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, a Japan-led initiative aimed at curbing China's increasing regional assertiveness and maintaining a rules-based international order.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks at the Philippine parliament in Manila on Nov. 4, 2023.

The new plan included fundamental principles that the world should uphold to address global issues, Kishida said Saturday, pledging to bolster support to other countries for infectious disease control and sustainable economic growth.

On Saturday, Kishida became the first Japanese prime minister to deliver a speech in the Philippine parliament. He kicked off his three-day trip to Southeast Asia on Friday.

As for ties between Japan and the Philippines, Kishida voiced hopes that the two democracies will cooperate in various fields, such as nuclear disarmament and decarbonization, as well as trilateral security collaboration with the United States.

Kishida, meanwhile, praised the significant progress in Japan-Philippines relations over the past half-century, promising to make every effort to ensure that the strong bilateral friendship continues to develop.

Japan is scheduled to host a special summit with ASEAN nations in Tokyo in December to commemorate 50 years of friendship. The 10-member ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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