Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed Tokyo’s commitment to support the Philippines in its economic development as well as in its maritime dispute against China.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Abe had a bilateral meeting in a hotel in Pasay City (Metro Manila) on Thursday night.
In a statement, Abe gave assurances that Japan will actively work with the Philippines’ peace and stability efforts in the region by providing defense capacity-building assistance, noting that both countries have already entered a stage of strengthened strategic partnership.
“We share concerns on unilateral action, including the large-scale reclamation and construction of facilities for military use in the disputes seas,” Abe said as he urged for the observance of the principles in the “rule of law at sea.”
“It is important to uphold these principles and refrain from acting unilaterally since this only increases regional tensions,” he added.
Abe said Japan welcomes the agreement in principle on the transfer defense equipment and agrees to work together with the Philippines for its early signing.
“There was a request from President Aquino regarding the provision of large patrol vessels to the Philippine Coast Guard, and Japan would like to consider the specifics of the agreement,” he added.
Improved strategic partnership
Both the Philippines and Japan have reaffirmed their commitment to improve “strategic” defense partnership.
In a note sent to reporters, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. reported that during the bilateral talks, Aquino expressed hope that the two countries will “expand cooperation in terms of defense equipment and technology modernization.”
“The President told the Prime Minister that with his continued leadership, the Philippines will continue to have a reliable friend and ally, and that the Philippines-Japan strategic partnership will most certainly be strengthened,” Coloma said.
He added that the President congratulated the Japanese prime minister on the enactment of new security legislation that allows Japan to play a more supportive role to allies in the aspect of promoting regional peace and stability.
“President Aquino thanked Prime Minister Abe for Japan’s assistance to the government’s efforts to attain enduring peace and long-term progress in Mindanao through the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development (J-BIRD II) program that seeks to promote capacity-building for economic autonomy,” Coloma said.
Both Aquino and Abe witnessed the signing of agreement between the Philippines and Japan on social security as well as the exchange of notes on the North-South Commuter Railway Project, Phase I (Malolos-Tutuban).
Coloma said the two leaders also expressed satisfaction with the progress achieved thus far in terms of the Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in the Metropolitan Manila Area that seeks to attain modernizing the National Capital Region’s transport sector by 2030.
“This program focuses on infrastructure and mass transit development to address the congestion challenges posed by urbanization,” he noted.
Coloma said Aquino also congratulated the Japanese premier on his reelection as president of the Liberal Democratic Party.
“The President noted that the 60th anniversary of Philippine-Japan relations next year will be highlighted by the visit of Their Majesties, the Emperor and the Empress in January 2016,” he added.
“He said he is eager to extend to them the same warm and generous hospitality they had accorded to him and his delegation during his visit to Japan last June,” Coloma said.
The President acknowledged that Japan has remained as the country’s top trading partner since 2010 and is consistently one of the Philippines’ top investors, he added.