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Aquino to take up Spratlys issue in upcoming Tokyo visit

/ 07:28 PM September 17, 2011

MANILA, Philippines—President Benigno Aquino will raise issues related to the West Philippine Sea, as the Philippines refers to the South China Sea, when he meets Japanese leaders during a visit to Tokyo later this month, Malacañang said Saturday.

A news release issued by the Presidential Communications and Operations Office quoted Aquino as saying that the West Philippine Sea was an area of mutual interest for both the Philippines and Japan.

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Aquino said he would be raising the idea of unhampered trade and the freedom of navigation in the region “so complimentary efforts could be done to ensure the safety of trade.”

Territories in the West Philippine Sea, particularly the Spratly Islands, are the subject of dispute among countries around them. These include the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.

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Malacañang said another major item on Aquino’s Tokyo agenda will be nuclear energy in light of the debates in the Philippines on the use of nuclear power and  Japan’s experience with nuclear energy before and after the great earthquake and tsunami.

“Their experiences undoubtedly will help us, will guide us on whether or not to do the same,” the President said, referring to the nuclear disaster Japan experienced recently.

The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan recently damaged the nuclear plant in Fukushima and endangered the environment.

“Japan has been very good to us… contributing the largest source of official development assistance. Japan has undergone a tremendous shock with both earthquake and tsunami and of course the continuing issue on radioactivity,” President Aquino said.

“We would want to express solidarity with the Japanese people because in our culture there’s a phrase in Filipino called utang na loob (debt of gratitude),” he added.

Aquino will  meet with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whom Aquino described as “a good prime minister.”

“We are honored… and I understand that I’m the second head of state who will be talking to him. We want to appraise him on the things happening in the Philippines… and for him appraise us also on things happening in Japan,” the President said.

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The President has told the Japanese media that the Philippines was preparing another package of assistance for Japan after it sent food and clean water right after the disaster, the Palace news release said.

Aquino said there is a substantial amount allocated by the Philippine government to assist Japan.

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TAGS: Diplomacy, Disaster, Foreign affairs, Japan, Spratlys, territorial dispute
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