Ja­pan will sup­port PH na­tion-build­ing through trade, mar­itime se­cu­rity – PM Abe

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By ROY MABASA

Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter (PM) Shinzo Abe promised to be the Philip­pines’ strate­gic part­ner in na­tion­build­ing through the ex­pan­sion of trade and in­vest­ment links be­tween the two coun­tries and by pro­vid­ing sus­tain­able devel­op­ment ef­forts in in­fra­struc­ture, public safety and counter-ter­ror­ism, and anti-il­le­gal drugs mea­sure.

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with the Manila Bul­letin, Prime

Min­is­ter Abe said Ja­pan at­taches great im­por­tance to its re­la­tion­ship with the Philip­pines and “will strive to con­tinue strength­en­ing co­op­er­a­tion with it in ev­ery as­pect.”

“I am de­lighted to visit the Philip­pines – in re­sponse to the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Duterte – for my first overseas trip in 2017,” he said.

In his bid to fur­ther ex­pand trade and in­vest­ment ties be­tween their two coun­tries, Prime Min­is­ter Abe is ac­com­pa­nied by a del­e­ga­tion of Ja­panese busi­ness­men who look for­ward to ex­chang­ing opin­ions with their coun­ter­parts in Manila and Min­danao, and rel­e­vant Philip­pine govern­ment agen­cies.

Mar­itime se­cu­rity

Prime Min­is­ter Abe said Ja­pan will con­tinue to fo­cus on pro­mot­ing ca­pac­ity-build­ing in the field of mar­itime se­cu­rity.

The Ja­panese leader dis­closed that the Ja­panese govern­ment will move for­ward with the pro­vi­sion of high speed boats to sup­port the Philip­pines’ anti-ter­ror­ism mea­sures com­ing at the heels of pa­trol ves­sels re­cently pro­vided to the Philip­pine Coast Guard.

Abe said based on the agree­ment con­cern­ing the trans­fer of de­fense equip­ment and tech­nol­ogy, Ja­pan Mar­itime Self-De­fense Force’s (JMSDF) TC-90 train­ing air­craft will also be trans­ferred to the Philip­pines. “We will con­tinue to en­hance se­cu­rity and de­fense co­op­er­a­tion with the friendly na­tion of the Philip­pines,” he em­pha­sized.

More­over, Abe said the Ja­panese govern­ment shall con­tinue to sup­port sus­tain­able devel­op­ment ef­forts es­sen­tial for the Philip­pines’ na­tion­build­ing.

“In par­tic­u­lar, we will ex­pand as­sis­tance in the ar­eas pri­or­i­tized by the Duterte ad­min­is­tra­tion such as in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment; public safety and counter-ter­ror­ism; and anti-il­le­gal drugs mea­sure,” he pointed out.

Ac­cord­ing to Abe, he will be trav­el­ing to Davao, the home­town of Pres­i­dent Duterte.

“It is a great plea­sure for me to have an op­por­tu­nity to visit Davao, which has his­tor­i­cally close ties with Ja­pan; in par­tic­u­lar, it was home to about 20,000 early Ja­panese im­mi­grants in the Philip­pines,” he noted.

“I hope to ex­pand ties be­tween Ja­pan and the Philip­pines through a fruit­ful talk with Pres­i­dent Duterte in this visit,” he said.

Free and open seas

Prime Min­is­ter Abe also wants to take on an ac­tive role in en­sur­ing ad­her­ence to the rule of law and to main­tain “peace­ful, sta­ble, free, and open seas” par­tic­u­larly in dis­puted ar­eas in the South China Sea, by closely work­ing with re­gional coun­try lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte who is chair­man of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) this year.

“The Philip­pines and Ja­pan are both is­land coun­tries and mar­itime na­tions. Thus, our coun­tries’ safety and pros­per­ity de­pend ex­actly on ‘peace­ful, sta­ble, free, and open seas’,” he em­pha­sized.

“It is for this rea­son that Ja­pan has con­sis­tently been ad­vo­cat­ing for re­spect­ing the rule of law at sea,” Abe stressed.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ja­panese leader, the con­flict over the sovereignty of a large por­tion of the South China Sea has be­come a com­mon con­cern to mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing Ja­pan; as such mat­ters are di­rectly linked to re­gional peace and sta­bil­ity.

“The South China Sea holds sea lanes that are cru­cial not only to the re­gions around it, but also to the growth of global econ­omy,” Abe pointed out.

At the same time, he said Ja­pan is very much ap­pre­cia­tive of the ef­forts be­ing un­der­taken by the Philip­pine govern­ment to im­prove its re­la­tions with China based on the fi­nal award ren­dered by the Per­ma­nent Court of Ar­bi­tra­tion in July the pre­vi­ous year as to the dis­putes of the two coun­tries over the South China Sea

“It is im­por­tant to set­tle mar­itime dis­putes peace­fully in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional le­gal in­stru­ments, such as the United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with­out re­sort­ing to threats or use of force,” Prime Min­is­ter Abe said.

“Im­por­tance of rule of law, the peace­ful set­tle­ment of mar­itime dis­putes, and non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion were also reaf­firmed at ASEAN re­lated meet­ings held in 2016,” he added.

“In or­der to en­sure ad­her­ence to the rule of law and to main­tain and de­velop open and sta­ble seas, I would like to closely work with re­gional coun­try lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Duterte as chair­man of ASEAN for 2017,” Prime Min­is­ter Abe said.

PH backs Ja­pan

Dur­ing his visit to Ja­pan last Oc­to­ber, Pres­i­dent Duterte said the Philip- pines backs Ja­pan’s ter­ri­to­rial rights in the South China Sea.

The Philip­pine leader said his coun­try would “not aban­don Ja­pan in our part­ner­ship and se­cu­rity mat­ters, given the com­mon be­lief that our con­flicts and prob­lems with other na­tions must be re­solved peace­fully, in ac­cor­dance with in­ter­na­tional law.”

In their joint state­ment fol­low­ing their meet­ing in Tokyo, Duterte and Abe shared the recog­ni­tion that the se­cu­rity en­vi­ron­ment in the re­gion is faced with many chal­lenges, and de­cided to fur­ther col­lab­o­rate to main­tain peace, sta­bil­ity, and pros­per­ity in the re­gion.

The two lead­ers also em­pha­sized the need to en­sure mar­itime safety and se­cu­rity which are vi­tal el­e­ments for the peace, sta­bil­ity and con­tin­ued pros­per­ity of both coun­tries in the re­gion.

Main­tain­ing open and sta­ble seas is es­sen­tial in the re­gion. The two lead­ers shared the view that the South China Sea holds sea lanes vi­tal for global eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity and vi­a­bil­ity. In this re­gard, the two lead­ers stressed the im­por­tance of free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion and over flight, as well as anti-piracy ef­forts and co­op­er­a­tion.

With re­gard to the South China Sea Ar­bi­tral Award, the two lead­ers ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of a rules-based ap­proach to the peace­ful set­tle­ment of mar­itime dis­putes with­out re­sort­ing to the threat or use of force, in ac­cor­dance with the 1982 United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the UN Char­ter and other rel­e­vant in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions. They fur­ther em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of sel­f­re­straint and non-mil­i­ta­riza­tion, and the 2002 ASEAN-China Dec­la­ra­tion on the Con­duct of the Par­ties in the South China Sea (DOC)

Abe’s brand of diplo­macy

Prime Min­is­ter Abe’s as­sur­ances of sup­port that Ja­pan is will­ing to ex­tend to the Philip­pines are part of Prime Min­is­ter Abe’s sig­na­ture of “sub­tle, nim­ble and imag­i­na­tive diplo­macy,” said Prof. Richard Hey­dar­ian of the De La Salle Univer­sity in Manila Po­lit­i­cal Science depart­ment.

“Abe is def­i­nitely the most proac­tive global leader in the re­gion-re­cal­i­brat­ing Ja­panese for­eign pol­icy like never be­fore since the end of World War II while rapidly reach­ing out to United States Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump and Pres­i­dent Duterte as the lat­ter di­ver­si­fies Philip­pine strate­gic en­tan­gle­ments by reach­ing out to China and Rus­sia,” Hey­dar­ian noted.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.