JAPANESE Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko impressed President Rodrigo Duterte with their simplicity.
The President made the observation after meeting the royals for the first time at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo during the second day of his working visit to Japan. Duterte was accompanied by his partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña.
“He (Emperor) lives very simply. He is very [soft]spoken, as well as Her Majesty Michiko. [And] you know what, I have been to many places and palaces of great leaders and people. This is the first time that I have seen the simplest palace,” Duterte said Tuesday night upon his return to his home city of Davao.
“[T]rees surround the Palace; it is just a small place. And even his…the receiving room, you won’t even see any picture. It’s really bland, actually,” Duterte added.
The President said his talks with the emperor and empress were limited to non-political matters.
“The emperor limits himself to [engaging in]social functions. We did not talk about policy of governments or matters of governmental concern,” Duterte said.
“He’s just limiting himself to the duties; ruling the nation as its sovereign head. It was purely [a]social [engagement],” Duterte added.
The Philippine President was supposed to meet the emperor and his wife when he visited Japan in October 2016. But Duterte’s courtesy call to the Japanese royals was cancelled because of the untimely death of Emperor Akihito’s uncle, Prince Mikasa.
Prior to meeting the Japanese royal couple, Duterte met with the descendants of former Japanese premier Takeo Fukuda and posthumously conferred on him the Gawad Sikatuna.
The Order of Sikatuna is a diplomatic merit conferred upon diplomats, officials and nationals of foreign states who have rendered exceptional and meritorious service in fostering, developing and strengthening relations between the Philippines and their respective countries.
Fukuda was feted for his role in ushering an era of cooperation, peaceful relations, trust and friendship between Japan and Asean through the “Fukuda Doctrine” that he articulated on August 18, 1977 during a visit to Manila.
Duterte had a brief chat with the descendants of Fukuda following the conferment rites.
He then received in a courtesy call former foreign minister Fumio Kishida, head of the Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council.
The President returned to the country via Davao International Airport on Tuesday night.
P59B for ‘Build, Build, Build’
Duterte secured at least P59 billion (¥113 billion) worth of loans—on top of P452 billion (¥1 trillion) in aid and P309 billion ($6 billion) in Japanese investments—to fund his ambitious Build, Build, Build program.
The Build, Build, Build program calls for the construction of P8 trillion worth of infrastructure projects by the end of his term in 2022.
Of the P59 billion worth of loans, P51 billion will be earmarked for the Metro Manila Subway Project and Arterial Road Bypass Project (a bypass road along the Philippine-Japan Friendship Highway that will connect Metro Manila with Central Luzon).
The loan for the Metro Manila Subway Project is worth P47 billion, and for the Arterial Road Bypass Project, P4 billion.
Another infrastructure project to be funded by a loan from the Japanese government is the P8-billion Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project.
The rate of interest for the Metro Manila Subway Project is at 0.1 percent per year, and 0.01 percent interest rate per annum for consulting services. The repayment period is 28 years, after a grace period of 12 years.
The Arterial Road Bypass Project has a 1.5-percent interest rate annually. The repayment period is 20 years after a grace period of 10 years.
The Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project has an interest rate of 0.3 percent per year and a repayment period of 30 years after a grace period of 10 years.
Part of the P452-billion (¥1-trillion) aid package will also fund the Manila Metropolitan Subway project; North to South commuter railway (Clark, Pampanga to Los Baños, Laguna); a railway training school; improvement of connectivity between Metro Manila and other cities and stimulation of local investment in Cebu, Davao and other major cities; river improvement in Metro Manila and Mindanao; and flood-control projects.
Also to be funded are electric- and liquefied natural gas-related infrastructure; job creation that will involve industry promotion and industrial human resource development; programs against illegal drug use; counter-terrorism measures; improving monitoring capabilities of maritime security agencies; smooth introduction of Japanese-style digital terrestrial broadcasting system; construction of waste power generation facilities in model cities; projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promotion of agricultural mechanization toward improving the distribution of agricultural products; and technical support for disaster-prevention initiatives.
The total $6 billion in investments from Japanese companies will be made through joint ventures and the expansion of operations in the Philippines in manufacturing (shipbuilding, iron, steel), as well as agribusiness, power, renewable energy, transportation, infrastructure, mineral processing, retailing, and information technology, among others.
The 18 Japanese companies who pledged investments to the Philippines were Marubeni Corp., Itochu Corp., Sumitomo Metal Mining Co. Ltd., Taiheiyo Cement Corp., Tsuneishi Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Japan Tobacco Inc., Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., Ministop Co. Ltd., Lawson Inc., Ubicon Holdings Inc., Advanced World Solutions Inc., Densan System Co. Ltd., Hitachi Asia and Hitachi Ltd., Subic Smart Community Corp., Nomura Real Estate Development Co. Ltd., Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings Ltd., Federal Land Inc., and Yamato Kogyo and Itochu Corp.
Filipino companies that expressed intention to engage in joint ventures with Japanese firms were Alsons/AWS Information Systems Inc., CIS Bayad Center Inc., Meralco, Newcoast Southbeach Realty Inc., Federal Land Inc., SteelAsia Manufacturing Corp., and Metro Pacific Investments Corp.