“TOKYO — President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, on a trip to Japan, said Wednesday that he wanted all foreign troops out of his country within “maybe two years” and that he was willing to revoke base-hosting agreements with the United States.The remarks, made to a group of Japanese and Filipino businessmen in Tokyo, are the clearest signal yet that Mr. Duterte wants to renegotiate the 2014 agreement his predecessor reached with the United States to let the Pentagon use five Philippine military bases, a central component of the Obama administration’s plan to bolster American influence in Asia.
“I want them out,” Mr. Duterte said of the American troops in his country, adding that he was willing to “revise or abrogate agreements.” He also repeated a recent assertion that he would withdraw from any joint military exercises with the United States, a treaty ally. “This will be the last maneuver, war games, between the United States and the Philippine military,” he said, according to a transcript of his remarks.
Mr. Duterte’s trip to Japan is his first state visit since he said in China last week that he wanted a “separation” from the United States, a remark he later softened. He told his Tokyo audience on Wednesday that he had discussed only economic matters with Chinese officials, not security or alliances.
Still, his visit puts Japan, another important ally of the United States in Asia and the Philippines’ largest trading partner, in the delicate position of trying to retain a balance in an increasingly tense region where Japan fears any further tilt toward China.Mr. Duterte was more subdued in a joint statement with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later on Wednesday. Calling Japan a “special friend who is closer than a brother,” he said the Philippines would continue to work closely with Tokyo and uphold democracy and the rule of law in a peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea.
Mr. Abe said that those disputes were a “matter of interest for the entire global community” and that he welcomed Mr. Duterte’s efforts “to improve and further advance the relationship between the Philippines and China.” ”
There are a number of good comments. Here is one I partly agree with:
“What we need in an Asian ally is a principled, non-corrupt government that sees the China threat as we do.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. If Duterte does not like our subsidizing of his defense costs, maybe Vietnam will.”