Kishida Fumio declares ‘Golden Age’ in Philippines-Japan ties, emphasizes security and economy

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Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio declared on Saturday that the 67-year-old diplomatic ties between the governments of Japan and the Philippines have reached their “golden age.”

“Today, the Japan-Philippines relationship has reached the point of being called a ‘golden age,’” Kishida said in his address before the special joint session of Congress.

Kishida also emphasized the strong and growing relationship between Japan and the Philippines.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, the first Japanese premier to address a special joint session of the Philippine congress, delivers his speech while Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri, left, and House speaker Martin Romualdez watch at the House of Representative in Quezon city, Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed Friday to start negotiations for a key defense pact that would allow their troops to enter each other’s territory for joint military exercises. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, Pool)

“About a half century has passed since then. Exchanges between our two countries have deepened, and today, the relationship between Japan and the Philippines is stronger than ever,” he said. 

The deepening of this relationship highlights the shared interests and mutual cooperation between the two nations, he added.

Security, defense

Kishida said one of the pivotal aspects of Japan-Philippines relations is security and defense cooperation. 

He said the core idea of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) concept is to establish a rules-based international order and consolidate principles such as free trade, freedom of navigation, and the rule of law, which are essential for the stability and prosperity of the region.

“Japan has hitherto provided 12 ships to the Coast Guard to play a part in improving the Philippines’ maritime security capability. Furthermore, a Japanese firm delivered a warning and control radar to the Philippine Air Force last month in order to improve air domain awareness,” he said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, the first Japanese premier to address a special joint session of the Philippine congress, waves beside Senate president Juan Miguel Zubiri, left, and House speaker Martin Romualdez at the House of Representative in Quezon city, Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed Friday to start negotiations for a key defense pact that would allow their troops to enter each other’s territory for joint military exercises. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila,Pool)

Kishida also said Japan agreed with the Philippines to provide coastal surveillance radars to the Philippine Navy as the first cooperation project in the world under Japan’s newly established Official Security Assistance (OSA) this year. 

“Japan will continue to contribute to the enhancement of the Philippines’ security capabilities, thereby contributing to regional peace and stability,” he added.

Moreover, Kishida said that, recognizing the importance of a free and open international order based on the rule of law, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States are intensifying their cooperation. 

This trilateral alliance is crucial for maintaining regional stability and ensuring the freedom of the sea, particularly in the South China Sea,” the Japanese leader said.

“In the South China Sea, trilateral cooperation to protect the freedom of the sea is underway. In addition to the participation of Japan’s self-defense forces in the joint U.S.-Philippines exercises held last month, the first joint exercise by the coast guard agencies of the three countries was held in June this year. Through these efforts, let us protect the maritime order, which is governed by laws and rules, not by force,” he added.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, center, the first Japanese premier to address a special joint session of the Philippine congress, poses for a selfie at the House of Representative in Quezon city, Philippines on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023. The leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed Friday to start negotiations for a key defense pact that would allow their troops to enter each other’s territory for joint military exercises. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, Pool)

Economy, investment 

Kishida also emphasized the cooperation in the areas of economy and investment between Manila and Tokyo. 

“Japan is the largest donor to the Philippines. Through the 600 billion yen of public-private assistance announced in February, which runs through March next year,” he said.

Kishida also vowed to continue to support economic and social development, in line with Marcos’ “Build Better More” program.

The prime minister also said he is proud that Japan can play a part in this subway project, which is said to be a “50-year dream.”

“Furthermore, Japan is one of the largest investors in the Philippines on a private-sector basis. Public-private partnerships and investments in companies that contribute to decarbonization are also underway. The public and private sectors are eagerly working together to support the economic growth of the Philippines,” he added. 

Global issues 

Kishida said Japan and the Philippines are actively coordinating efforts to address global issues. 

“As a native of Hiroshima, nuclear disarmament is my lifework. I will continue to promote realistic and practical efforts toward a world without nuclear weapons. With this in mind, I am pleased that in September we were able to co-host the Commemorative High-Level Event on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT),” he said. 

This reflects a shared commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, Kishida. 

Climate change, an issue of global significance, as Kishida said, has also brought the two nations together. 

“Regarding climate change, which the Marcos administration also attaches great importance to, we are deepening cooperation on energy transition through the realization of the Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) concept,” he said.

Kishida said this will culminate in the AZEC summit meeting in December, where participating countries will work together to achieve “net zero” emissions, aligning with their unique energy transition pathways.

Meanwhile, Kishida added that he is looking forward to Marcos’ visit to Japan for the 50th ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation Conference in Tokyo next month. 

For his part, Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez expressed his gratitude to Kishida during his address to the joint session of Congress last Saturday.

“In the spirit of unity and partnership, we extend our sincere and heartfelt appreciation to his excellency, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio. With reverence and hope for our shared future, today’s discourse fortifies the bridge between our great nations,” he said.