‘Prospective VFA with Japan a work in progress’

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
�Prospective VFA with Japan a work in progress�
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos attend a press conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on February 9, 2023.
Kimimasa MAYAMA / POOL / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — A prospective Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and Japan is “a work in progress,” Speaker Martin Romualdez said yesterday.

In his assessment, Romualdez noted that President Marcos’ ongoing working visit in Japan could lead to the creation of a VFA, an agreement that the Philippines has with the United States at present.

“I think that’s the general direction. We’re all in the same region, we’re all actually experiencing the same issues and concerns and the President always says he knows... He always works multi-laterally, but that’s not without exception to having bilateral agreements, for instance, the Philippines and Japan, that would somehow effect like a trilateral agreement,” he said.

He added that the visit is an offshoot of Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s first meeting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York last year.

After the UNGA, the Philippine delegation had lunch with then newly minted Prime Minister Kishida and “the phrase that or the words that they used was that economic security,” according to the Speaker.

“So you can figure out this with those two words,” Romualdez said.

He expressed belief that Marcos and Kishida will discuss the supposed pact in “broad strokes.”

“There’s a general understanding that that’s the direction, but it was always, you know, founded on fact that to usher in an environment of peace and stability. But that’s what it’s all about, and I guess it’s the creation of balance,” Romualdez said.

He added that when it comes to peace and stability, such security arrangements are necessary “because this stability in the region promotes prosperity, and that’s the bedrock of any strong economy.”

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