Marcos invites Japan emperor, empress to visit PH
TOKYO—President Marcos has invited Japanese Emperor Naruhito, Empress Masako and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to visit the Philippines “at the most convenient time… in the very near future.”
The President extended the invitations on Thursday afternoon when he was granted a royal audience with the emperor and empress, and in his bilateral meeting with Kishida afterward.
“This afternoon, the first lady (Liza Araneta-Marcos) and I also had the distinct honor of having an audience with Their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan. We had a memorable conversation and I deeply appreciate the Imperial audience accorded to me and the first lady,” Mr. Marcos said during a joint press conference with Kishida at the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office here.
He added: “I have extended an invitation to Their Majesties to visit the Philippines at the most convenient time.”
The Chief Executive also thanked Kishida for his earlier invitation to visit Japan, “one of the Philippines’ closest neighbors and closest friends.”
“We hope to welcome Prime Minister Kishida to the Philippines for a return visit in the very near future,” he said.
The President arrived at the Imperial Palace at around 4 p.m. (local time), where he was welcomed by the emperor and empress.
The closed-door audience lasted for about 30 minutes. The media were not allowed inside the Imperial Palace to witness the meeting.
The President then proceeded to the Prime Minister’s Office, where he was welcomed by Kishida and feted by an honor guard which played the “Lupang Hinirang” and the Japanese anthem, “Kimigayo.”
The arrival honors lasted for nine minutes before the two leaders and their respective delegations were ushered to another venue for the bilateral meeting.
Present at the Prime Minister’s Office were former President and House Senior Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Defense Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Special Assistant to the President Antonio Lagdameo Jr., Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil and Agriculture Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.
After the bilateral meeting, Marcos and Kishida witnessed the signing of seven key agreements on mutual cooperation in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, infrastructure, agriculture and digital cooperation.
In his statement, Kishida said the deals “confirm the broadening and deepening of the bilateral relations that will indicate the direction for our shared future.”
These agreements included the exchange of notes and official development assistance (ODA) loan agreement for the North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project II from Malolos in Bulacan to Tutuban in Manila; the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) between the Department of Agriculture and Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on agricultural cooperation; an MOC in the field of information and communications technology, and the umbrella terms of reference on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation.
Kishida said the Philippines is a “strategic partner sharing fundamental values” and that “bilateral cooperation on economy, security and defense, and people-to-people exchange, and deepening of cooperation in wide-ranging areas were strongly affirmed” during the bilateral meeting.
He expressed optimism that the economic development of the Philippines “will be a big economic opportunity for both of our countries to support the Economic Development Plan of the Philippines to become an upper-middle-income country.”
“By March 2024, public-private assistance of 600 billion (yen) will be provided. As a part of it, exchange of notes just took place on rail development. Also, in respect of the priority areas of the Marcos administration based on a series of MOCs signed this time, we concurred to advance efforts in agriculture and ICT by utilizing state-of-the-art technology,” Kishida added.
For his part, Marcos described Japan as a “trusted friend and a solid and steadfast partner in our quest for peace and for progress.”
“We share common principles of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Our partnership continues to be among the Philippines’ most resilient and dynamic in the region,” he added.