(From left) Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda, PHILJEC secretary general JJ Soriano, Mitsubishi Corp. chairman Ken Kobayashi, ANA Holdings CEO Shinya Katanozaka, Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo Puyat, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Marubeni chairman Teruo Asada, the author and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Joey Laurel.
In the Land of the Morning, there’s the Rising Sun
MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo (The Philippine Star) - April 9, 2019 - 12:00am

PHILJEC-JPECC annual joint meeting

I recently wrote about the strengthening of relations between the Philippines and Malaysia with the official visit last month of Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad.

I now touch on relations between the Philippines and Japan, and the economic cooperation between the two countries.

Relations between the Philippines and Japan grew stronger under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Shinzo Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan since 2012, visited the Philippines twice in the past two years, going all the way to Davao City to visit the President, a veering away from the usual protocol.

And Japan was one of the first countries that President Duterte visited within the first two years of his presidency. (I joined the visits as part of the business delegation accompanying President Duterte.) This exemplifies the closeness of the two heads of state, and of the two countries.

The strength in the relationship extends to all aspects, especially economic, and one organization at the forefront of this is the Philippines-Japan Economic Cooperation Committee (PHILJEC).

PHILJEC was established in 1973 and was formerly known as the Philippine National Committee for Economic Cooperation with Japan. It was organized to “promote, strengthen and expand trade, economic, scientific technological advancements, and exchange assistance to business endeavors in both the Philippines and Japan.”

The committee was designed to be a forum for private sector dialogue and the exchange of ideas geared towards the enhancement of Philippines-Japan trade and business relations.

The Japanese counterpart to PHILJEC is the Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee or JPECC.

Panelists of the joint meeting led by ANA Holdings CEO Shinya Katanozaka (third from left) with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.’s Isao Hosoya, JTB Corp.’s Takashi Sasaki, PHILJEC chairman Aniceto Saludo, Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, the author and EEI president Bobby Castillo.

Last year, the PHILJEC and JPECC conducted their 36th Annual Joint Meeting here in the Philippines with the theme “Build, Build, Build.” This year, their 37th Annual Joint Meeting was held in Tokyo, Japan.

Invited from the Philippines to speak were Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, who delivered a keynote on robust trade ties; Transportation Secretary Arturo Tugade, who delivered in his usual eloquent manner his keynote on transportation partnerships between the two countries, zeroing in on the recent launch of the much-needed subway system for Metro Manila; and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who passionately spoke on tourism opportunities.

Speakers from the private sector included Magsaysay Lines president and CEO Doris Magsaysay-Ho and EEI president and CEO Robert Castillo.

I spoke on the Metro Pacific Group’s impact on nation-building through its infrastructure and other projects and businesses in the Philippines.

Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) and its subsidiaries, as well as all the other companies under the MVP Group of Companies, have been very supportive of the “Build, Build, Build” program of President Duterte. This is evident in the number of major projects that the group has partnered in with government, especially in public utilities, transportation and infrastructure.

In my talk, I mentioned that MPIC has invested in the development and operation of power distribution and generation facilities, potable water supply and sewerage treatment, toll roads, healthcare, light rail and logistics.

These essential services contribute to the building blocks of society by strengthening communities and promoting their prosperity. While most of these businesses have been operational for quite some time now, we ensure that we maintain, if not surpass, the levels of excellence that they have established prior to our entry.

I went on to say that we take pride in delivering high quality, well-run and fairly-priced services and we believe in empowering the people we serve to participate in and benefit from sustainable economic growth.

MPIC and the other companies in the MVP Group continue to enjoy healthy relationships with their respective Japanese contractors: Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Marubeni Corp., Kansai Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power for power; Marubeni Corp., Toshiba Corp., JFE Engineering Corp., JICA, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. for water; Katahari Engineers Asia and Japan Expressway International Company for toll roads; Marubeni Corp. and LSI Medience for hospitals; JICA, Mitsubishi Corp., Marubeni Corp., Otowa Electric, Yashima & Co. and JSM Ltd. for light rail; and The NTT Group for telecommunications.

The health and strength of these relationships would not be sustained if the relationship and economic cooperation between the Philippines and Japan was not anchored on solid ground.

I am confident that such relationship and economic cooperation will only grow stronger.

My heartfelt congratulations to PHILJEC and JPECC.

In the Land of the Morning, there will always be the Rising Sun.

KOJI HANEDA PHILJEC-JPECC ANNUAL JOINT MEETING
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