The ties that bind

BUSINESS SNIPPETS - Marianne Go - The Philippine Star

Historically, the Philippines and Japan have had relations as far back as the 14th century. Although trade was minimal to start with, it was strong enough for Japanese traders to establish a small community of descendants in Manila, in a district called Dilao, which originated from the Tagalog term dilaw that was then used to describe the Japanese.

When Spain colonized the Philippines from 1565 to 1898,  Japan had periodically supported efforts by Filipinos to overthrow their Spanish conquerors.

However, it was in World War II, that the relationship of the Philippines with Japan turned sour. That brief dark period, fortunately, has gradually dimmed through the years and Japan is now more positively viewed by most Filipinos.

Japan, in fact, is now a major donor to the Philippines and Japanese influence in the country is so extensive – ranging from their cuisine to most electronic products and to the automotive sector. Japan is also now a favorite vacation destination for most Filipinos.

MUFG celebrates 70 years in the Philippines

MUFG, Japan’s largest global bank, recently celebrated its 70 years of presence in the Philippine market with no less than Asia Pacific chief executive Masakazu Osawa and its head of global corporate and investment banking for Asia Pacific Richard Yorke flying in to Manila last week to help mark the occasion, with Philippine country head Takeshi Hashida and deputy country head Marie Diana Singson hosting an appreciation event last week for its more than 400 clients and partners.

MUFG’s presence in the Philippines has also been strengthened by its partnership with Security Bank, in which MUFG has a 20 percent stake.

The four MUFG executives also met with business writers to reiterate the wholesale bank’s commitment to support their clients in helping fund vital infrastructure investment in the Philippines, as well as provide financing support for various investments in key target sectors.

According to Osawa, MUFG continues “to look for key opportunities,” specifically citing possible investment in the areas of “renewable energy, information technology, data centers and some real estate.”

Hashida elaborated that they see the “Philippines still has very strong economic growth” and noted that the “middle class is increasing” and is driving the appetite for new houses or condominiums, particularly citing Cebu.

Yorke, for his part, expressed confidence that concerns over the high interest rate environment that will affect the cost for their clients may finally be “seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” as monetary authorities ease up on the hiking cycle, although he acknowledges that geopolitical events still cast a shadow on interest rate movement.

Japan Mobility Show

Following the disruptive COVID pandemic that nearly crippled the global economy from 2020 to 2022, Japan has finally been able to resume its popular Tokyo Motor Show, but this time transforming and expanding the bi-annual event to include the theme of “Mobility for All” and thus renaming the exhibition to the Japan Mobility Show.

Automotive leader Toyota Motors Corporation invited several motoring reporters, both print and digital, business writers, and influencers to attend the exhibit to see the new developments in the automotive sector and the shift to a more sustainable and efficient way of powering the transport of the future.

The shift to cleaner technology was showcased by the various alternative electric or hybrid vehicles that manufacturers like Toyota exhibited, while also offering various ways to customize vehicles to suit the diverse needs of clients so that they can transform the basic vehicle to become a leisure transport for the outdoors or perhaps easily convertible to accommodate persons with disability, or perhaps allow the owner to just as easily transform the vehicle for a more commercial usage – like a mobile cafe or bar, a traveling retail store or as a transport for specialized items.

It was also interesting to see the increasing use of technology in the automotive industry, so much so that the vehicles of the future that we once only saw in the movies is now increasingly becoming reality without having to use keys or visible locks, and seamless dashboard displays from sci-fi movies.

Toyota’s latest concept car unveiled during the exhibit was the Kayoibako that seemed like one seamless unit without the usual fenders or block headlights, and is easily convertible to be the vehicle that the buyer wants it to be, and not just the plain car, van or SUV that Toyota designs it to be.

It is always of course much better to see it, to believe it. For those who intend to spend the long holiday weekend at the end of this month and have Japan as their favorite, safest and one of the most delicious food destinations to go to, try to catch the Japan Mobility Show in Odaiba, Tokyo before air fare prices are adjusted upwards.


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