PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte is set to visit Japan from May 29 to 31 on a Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s invitation, Cabinet officials said Tuesday.

In a briefing at the Palace, the President’s Spokesman Salvador S. Panelo confirmed that Mr. Duterte is set to visit Japan this month. “Sure na pupunta siya roon (the trip is confirmed),” he said.

Asked for more details after the briefing, Mr. Panelo told reporters: “What I know is that the invitation was personally carried here by the representatives of the Prime Minister. According to what I heard also is that when the President accepted that, the representatives of the Prime Minister came here to thank [Mr. Duterte].”

He also said the Palace is “hoping” to sign some deals with the Japanese government.

“I think May 29-31,” Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez said in a phone message to BusinessWorld when asked about the exact dates of the President’s visit.

He said there will be a “bilateral” meeting, and “meetings with Japanese corporations to relay their expansion plans.”

Mr. Lopez added that the “business to business (B2B) proposals” are “still being discussed.”

Mr. Panelo said the President’s visit to Tokyo, which will be his third since 2016, is expected to “improve” the trade relationship between the two countries.

According to DTI data, two-way trade volume between the Philippines and Japan was $20.02 billion in 2018, with exports at $9.47 billion and imports at $10.5 billion.

The DTI also noted that last year, Japan was the Philippines’ “second major trading partner (out of 221), third export market (out of 211), and third import supplier (out of 198).”

Mr. Duterte is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech on May 31 at the 25th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo organized by the newspaper and media group Nikkei, Inc., according to the Nikkei website.

Nikkei said the Future of Asia is an “international gathering where political, economic and academic leaders from the Asia-Pacific region offer their opinions frankly and freely on regional issues and the role of Asia in the world.”

“Held by Nikkei every year since 1995, it is considered one of the most important global conferences in Asia,” the organizer also said. — Arjay L. Balinbin