In a far cry from how things stood during and shortly after World War II, the international relations between the Philippines and Japan has been warm and positive for decades now. While the country’s war veterans and comfort women along with their families continue to ensure their ordeals are not forgotten, for the most part Filipinos buy Japanese goods, enjoy Japanese pop culture, and even find employment in Japan itself. It is to further these strong socio-economic bonds that President Rodrigo Duterte has traveled to Japan this week for an important regional conference, even taking his cabinet among the delegation.
CNN Philippines reports that President Rodrigo Duterte has arrived in Japan Tuesday evening, May 28. While there he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss important issues regarding the situation in the West Philippine Sea, as well the current economic conditions in both countries and the rest of Asia. President Duterte will also oversee new business transactions between Japanese and Filipino companies for the generation of roughly P300 billion in investment as well as 80,000 new jobs in the Philippines. More than 20 individual agreements will cover new opportunities in various fields from Duterte’s infrastructure projects to the local BPO sector.
This momentous occasion for further Philippine-Japan economic cooperation was somewhat shadowed by the fact that the President brought his entire national Cabinet as part of his delegation. Philippine Ambassador to Japan Jose Laurel V remarked that the presence of President Duterte’s Cabinet Secretaries might be a reward gesture for the Administration’s victory in the recent Midterm Senatorial Elections. Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo refuted this on Wednesday, May 29. He explained the vital importance of Duterte’s Cabinet in the business discussions with Japanese companies, and that they were not being rewarded because as Cabinet Secretaries they were prohibited from campaigning for any candidates in the Elections.
Panelo elaborated that the working visit to Japan was a prime opportunity for Filipino Cabinet officials to be able to dialogue with their respective opposite numbers in the National Diet, in the interest of forging stronger international relations. The Secretaries will also accompany the President on his meeting with representatives of the Filipino overseas community in Japan, who according to Panelo are entitled to personally meet with their home government’s national-level officials, who are helping President Duterte in plotting the future course of their nation.
The various business agreements will be officially signed, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), during the NIKKEI Conference on the Future of Asia from May 30-31, which the President will also attend. Duterte also took time to make important announcements regarding the country while in Japan. To specify, he has declared June 5, Wednesday next week, as a regular Holiday for being the time of Eid’l Fitr which ends the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan. The occasion itself is an official Holiday since 2002, but must be proclaimed every year due to its not being fixed, depending on the Muslim Calendar and the phases of the moon.
Image courtesy of Philippine Star