MANILA, Philippines — President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Friday reaffirmed the Philippines and Japan’s strategic partnership, signing various agreements that could equally benefit the two nations.
In a statement on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the following agreements were signed during Kishida’s official visit to the Philippines:
- Official Security Assistance Grant aid from Japan to the Government of the Philippines worth JPY 600 million (or approximately P235 million) for coastal radar system which will improve the Philippine navy’s maritime domain awareness capabilities
- The Exchange of Notes concerning the provision of construction equipment for Road Network Improvement/Implementation and Disaster Quick Response Operation Under the Economic and Social Development Programme
- Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of Tourism
- Memorandum of Cooperation on Mining Sector between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan
“Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to work together towards the enhancement of the Strategic Partnership across all sectors in the coming years,” said the DFA.
Marcos, the DFA added, likewise expressed appreciation for Japan’s commitments to Philippine development, especially the assistance it has provided to the country’s capacity development projects, such as those in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Maritime Domain Awareness
Among the topics that took the center stage during the two leaders’ meeting was the importance of “efforts to reinforce” Maritime Domain Awareness and maritime law.
The DFA said the the two leaders agreed that this could be achieved by building the capacity of the Philippine Coast Guard.
It likewise noted that Marcos and Kishida reaffirmed their commitment to “freedom of navigation and overflight” in the East and South China Seas.
“The two leaders reiterated their adherence to a rules-based approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas within the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to ensure peace, stability and prosperity,” said DFA.
It added that Kishida appreciates the Philippines for “consistently complying” with the arbitral tribunal award regarding the South China Sea.
Reciprocal Access Agreement
The DFA likewise noted that negotiations on the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Japan and the Philippines was tackled.
“The leaders decided to commence negotiations on RAA between Japan and the Philippines. [They] welcomed the realization of the transfer of the first air surveillance radar system to the Philippines and reaffirmed that this would further strengthen defense cooperation between the two countries,” the DFA said,
Official Development Assistance
According to the DFA, Marcos himself admitted that he values Japan’s steady commitment to provide assistance to the Philippines.
This includes the provision of at least JPY 600 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA) and private-sector investments in the Japanese Fiscal Year 2022-2023.
“The Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to support the Philippines’ infrastructure development efforts through its ODA. The two leaders reaffirmed their continued commitment to facilitating the steady implementation of ongoing and future economic cooperation projects through the High Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation,” said DFA.
Following what Marcos dubbed as “wide-ranging” talks between the leaders, DFA said that Kishida took the turn to invite the Philippine President to Tokyo next month.
DFA said Kishida looks forward to welcoming Marcos to the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit for the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.