Zubiri hopes PH-Japan cooperation continues under countries’ current admins
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri hopes that the longtime cooperation between the Philippines and Japan would continue even into the relatively new administrations of the two countries, noting that both share ideals and concerns.
Zubiri, who led the Senate delegation’s parliamentary visit to Tokyo, said on Thursday that they are thankful for the assistance that Japan has given to the Philippines — like the Metro Manila Subway which was conceived during the time of late former prime minister Abe Shinzo.
Zubiri said he hopes that the cooperation would continue under current Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s term.
“The Metro Manila Subway is our most ambitious project, and a long-awaited solution to the transportation problems that plague our capital. And so we are immensely grateful for the financial and technical assistance of the Japanese government in bringing this project to life,” Zubiri said in a statement.
“We are hopeful that under Prime Minister Kishida, we will be able to continue this kind of cooperation toward even more ambitious projects and programs that will be to the benefit of the Filipino and Japanese people alike,” he added.
The Senate President further stressed that it is important for the two countries to work closely as both are positioned in the Pacific Ring of Fire — a belt from the Americas to East Asia and Southeast Asia where volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and cyclones are common.
“It is good that like-minded countries like us get together and strengthen our strategic partnership and our defense cooperation, as this will not only protect our people in times of political conflict, but also in times of natural calamities,” Zubiri said.
“Japan and the Philippines, both being in the Pacific Ring of Fire, are similarly vulnerable to various natural disasters. We would do well to help each other in our disaster preparedness and response efforts, being that few other countries understand the unique problems that we face in this part of the globe,” he added.
Zubiri and the Senate delegation met with the Japanese Diet, which is composed of the House of Councilors and the Japanese House of Representatives.
Zubiri was accompanied by Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Deputy Majority Leader JV Ejercito, Senators Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Pia Cayetano, Win Gatchalian, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Mark Villar, and Lito Lapid.
The Senate contingent met with the House of Councilors on Tuesday, and was received by House of Councilors President Otsuji Hidehisa and Vice President Nagahama Hiroyuki.
Then on Wednesday, the delegation met with members of the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Hosoda Hiroyuki.
“This visit marks the renewal of our inter-parliamentary exchanges and dialogue, which was abruptly halted by the pandemic,” Zubiri said in his address.
Japan and the Philippines share a rich history of cooperation and coordination. Just this February, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. went to Tokyo for an official visit, where he met with various businesses and political leaders — including Kishida himself.
During the meeting between the two heads of state, Kishida sought for strengthened cooperation between Japan, the Philippines, and the United States (US). Prior to that, there were speculations that Japan would pursue a defense pact with the Philippines, similar to the latter’s Visiting Forces Agreement with the US.
Kishida also mentioned wanting stronger economic ties with the Philippines. According to Marcos, his five-day official visit to Japan yielded at least $13 billion worth of contributions and investment pledges — some of which his administration said will be felt soon.