Japan vows to support Duterte admin's infra program

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Japan vows to support Duterte admin's infra program
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte listens as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offers a toast for the enduring friendship and strengthened strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan during the banquet at the Prime Minister's Office in Tokyo, Japan on May 31, 2019.
Presidential photo / Toto Lozano

TOKYO, Japan — Japan has vowed to continue supporting the Duterte administration's infrastructure and peace and development efforts and to further strengthen its ties with the Philippines.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said Japan is proud to be the largest partner of 'Build, Build, Build, the Philippines' P8 trillion multi-year infrastructure program.

"We will continue to strongly support the sustainable economic development of the Philippines through assistance in quality infrastructure," Abe said after his meeting with Duterte here last Friday.

Japan has vowed to provide $9 billion to enhance the Philippines' infrastructure network and to support other key projects. 

The East Asian country has also committed about 25 billion yen for the development of Mindanao's road network, vocational training facilities and equipment.

Japan is the top provider of official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines, providing a total of $5.84 billion as of the end of September, according to official data. It is also the fifth largest provider of ODA grants during the period with a total assistance of $141.33 million.

Abe also reaffirmed his support for development efforts and the peace process in Mindanao, which has been plagued with insurgency and conflict for decades.

"The government of Japan will continue our strong support for projects actively being promoted by the president such as the peace process in Mindanao and infrastructure development," the Japanese leader said.

Abe said the peace process in Mindanao entered into a new stage with the establishment of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority last February.

"In the initial stage, I believe the priority lies in the strengthening of the administrative capacity of the transition authority and the facilitation of disarmament of soldiers of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front," he said.

"Japan will strengthen our support attuned to the progress of the peace process so that the people of Mindanao can truly feel and enjoy the peace dividend at the earliest possible time."

The Philippines and Japan would also strengthen their cooperation on defense policy and capacity building.

"Our two countries as strategic partners are closely cooperating in the area of security as well. While we will continue to engage in joint exercises and provide support in capacity building, we also intend to deepen our dialogue on the policy front," Abe said

He noted that Japan and the Philippines share basic values and strategic interests, both being maritime nations. 

Abe said Manila and Tokyo would seek to strengthen their defense partnership as they face challenges such as the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific based on the rule of law, full implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions towards the denuclearization of North Korea and early resolution of the abduction issue.

Japan also welcomed the Philippines' decision to lift the import suspension of fishery products from Fukushima prefecture before Duterte's visit here.

"Safety of agriculture, forestry and fishery products of Fukushima is ensured through thorough inspections and other measures," Abe said.

"Our government will continue to make outmost efforts to push for relaxation or removal of import restrictions imposed by some countries and wipe out the hurtful rumors," he added.

Abe also congratulated Duterte for the "overwhelming victory" of the administration coalition during the midterm elections. He said was "a manifestation of the tremendous support shown to the president’s track record during the past three years."

Abe expressed hope that the Philippines and Japan would boost their ties and work towards regional and global development.

"With another milestone reached today, I look forward to working hand in hand with President Duterte to further deepen the bond of friendship between Japan and the Philippines and to contribute to regional and global peace and prosperity," he said.

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