Japan helping fight terror scourge

Terrorism is not acceptable, Japan Foreign Minister Taro Kono tells President Duterte in his courtesy call. MP

Expressing grave concern over the deadly explosions that rocked Mindanao recently, the Japanese government has renewed its commitment to extend a helping hand in fighting terrorism in the country.

Kono reiterated Japan’s sustained support for the Philippines’ quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao

In a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte during his visit to Davao City recently, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono assured Japan’s cooperation in combatting the deadly scourge.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said Kono “personally conveyed the warm wishes and message of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the President, as well as Japan’s commitment to further deepen and expand cooperation with the Philippines.”

“FM Kono likewise conveyed PM Abe’s grave concern over the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu, and expressed Japan’s condemnation of the terrorism and violent extremism and their commitment to assist the Philippines in combatting the scourge of terrorism,” he added.

Panelo recounted the Japan foreign minister’s meeting with the President, saying that Kono reiterated “Japan’s sustained support for the Philippines’ quest for just and lasting peace and development in Mindanao.”

He likewise extended felicitations for the success of the Bangsamoro Organic Law plebiscite and expressed Japan’s commitment to rehabilitate and reconstruct Marawi and develop ARMM, including the funding of the Road Network Development Plan for ARMM.”

The Japanese foreign minister “recognized the Philippines’ contribution to the socio-economic development of Japan and conveyed Japan’s plan to open up its labor market for qualified Filipinos,” according to Panelo.

He said Duterte thanked Kono for the visit to Davao City and hailed the inauguration of Japan’s Consulate General in the city, which he described as “significantly expanding Japan’s presence and ties in southern Philippines.”

“The President likewise lauded Japan — which he described as a true friend and proven partner — for its involvement in the Philippines’ ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and highlighted the quality of the infrastructure projects, as well as the transfer of technology and training embedded in the projects that would benefit Filipino practitioners and experts,” Panelo said.

With the recent opening of the Embassy of Japan’s Consular Office in Davao, the governments of Japan and the Philippines are now expecting improved bilateral ties between the two countries.

Kono expressed hope that the opening of the consular office “will be a springboard to enhance the bilateral relationship.”

“We appreciate for the island (Mindanao) being the driving force of the bilateral relationship becoming closer and stronger,” said Kono in his opening statement during the bilateral meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez on Sunday at the Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao.

Dominguez thanked Japan for its generous and continuous support to the Philippines especially in providing positive impact to the country’s major infrastructure projects and sectoral cooperation.

According to him, over the years, Japan remained to be the Philippines’ top official development assistance or ODA partner.

“The Philippine government recognizes the steadfast commitment of the Government of Japan in supporting the country’s development agenda especially in helping jump-start the aggressive ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure modernization program so crucial to the nation’s sustained economic development,” Dominguez said.

He mentioned that since the start of President Duterte’s administration in June 2016, nine loan agreements have been signed between the Philippines and Japan.

Since 2017, Dominguez said six high-level meetings were already convened by the two countries in view of strengthening the Philippines-Japan joint statement on bilateral cooperation.

“With frequent coordination meetings, our accomplishments in the last two years are unprecedented,” he bared.

Following the “Fast and Sure” approach the Duterte administration has adopted with Prime Minister Abe’s administration, Dominguez said they have processed loan approvals for majority of the infrastructure projects being undertaken with Japan in just an average of three to four months.

“This demonstrates our shared commitment to work closely to ensure that the Filipino people get to benefit from these projects at reasonable costs and at the soonest possible time. We look forward to a more productive discussions in the forthcoming seventh high level meeting to be convened in Osaka, Japan later this month,” he said.

With Maya Padillo, Joshua Lao

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