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Philippines - Japan economic cooperation

FOR the past days or so, we witnessed a plethora of news about the one concern that is probably foremost in the minds of the people: transportation. The news cycle was peppered with updates on airlines and airports, train lines and railways, and bus lines and terminals. 

Any discussion on public transportation must consider its two-fold aspect: the vehicles which constitute the means by which public transportation is implemented; and the infrastructure which these modes of transport shall use. It is in this regard that the Duterte administration came up with its “Build, Build, Build” plan.

From left are: Metro Pacific Investments Corporation chairman  Manuel V. Pangilinan; EEI president and chief executive Roberto Jose Castillo; JAL chairman  Masaru Onishi; Hitachi Asia Ltd. Philippine Branch and president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines Mitsuhiko Shimizu and president Chodai Philippines Corp. Satoshi Kato

Relations between the Philippines and Japan grew stronger under the Duterte administration. Strength in these relations extends to all aspects, including national security. Witness the number of times that state visits have been made to both countries by both heads of state. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, even visited President Duterte at his residence in Davao City, something which goes beyond the usual official protocol.

I briefly recall the last visit President Duterte made to Japan in November 2017. This was also on the occasion of the signing of several business agreements between MERALCO and Metro Pacific Investments Corporation of the Philippines and Hitachi and Itochu of Japan. We could not thank Hitachi enough for being a most gracious host to the MVP Group contingent.

The relationship between the Philippines and Japan is also stronger economically, and one organization at the forefront on this effort is the Philippines - Japan Economic Cooperation Committee or PHILJEC. 

From left: With Manuel V. Pangilinan,  DOTr Secretary Art Tugade,  PHILJEC ’s JJ Soriano and Hitachi Asia Ltd. Philippine Branch general manager Mitsuhiko Shimizu

PHILJEC was formerly known as the Philippine National Committee for Economic Cooperation with Japan (PNCECJ). It was established in 1973 with much help from the Philippines – Japan Society, Inc. (PJS) that was, in turn, founded by former Philippine President and Senator Dr. Jose P. Laurel.

PHILJEC was organized to “promote, strengthen and expand trade, economic, scientific technological advancements, and exchange assistance to business endeavors in both the Philippines and Japan.” It was “designed to be a forum for private sector dialogue and the exchange of ideas geared towards the enhancement of Philippines-Japan trade and business relations.”

Today, PHILJEC is being led by the following officers: Aniceto Saludo, Jr. as Chairman; Gerard Sanvictores and Edwin Umali as Co-Chairmen; Richard Albert Osmond as Treasurer; Ma. Elena Loinaz as Assistant Treasurer; JJ Samuel Soriano as Secretary-General; and Glenda Ferma as Assistant Secretary. 

From left: Chairman of JPECC and chairman of the Board of Marubeni Corp. Teruo Asada; MVP; EEI president Roberto Jose Castillo; JAL chairman  Masaru Onishi; general manager of Hitachi Asia Ltd. Philippine Branch and president of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Philippines Mitsuhiko Shimizu; PHILJEC chairman Atty. Aniceto G. Saludo, Jr. and president Chodai Philippines Corp. Satoshi Kato

The following serve as Advisers to PHILJEC: Former Prime Minister Cesar Virata; Egmidio de Silva Jose; Francisco Eizmendi Jr.; Feliciano Torres; Fernando Zobel de Ayala; Francis Laurel; Tomas Alcantara; Eusebio Tan; and Roberto Jose Castillo.

PHILJEC Trustees are Aniceto Saludo Jr. (Chairman); Gerard Sanvictores; Edwin Umali; JJ Soriano; Ferdinand Ferrer; Carrie Bee Hao; Enrico Ingles; Jose Vicente Jimenez; Richard Albert Osmond; Philip Sanvictores; and Joseph Uy, Jr.

Recently, PHILJEC and its Japanese counterpart, the Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee (JPECC), conducted its 36th Joint Meeting over a two-day period here in the country, with the theme “’Build, Build, Build’ 

The first day of the joint meeting was a courtesy call on President Duterte and dinner at Malacañan Palace. This event was a dialogue between the President and the Special Philippine-Japan Investment Cooperation Group (SPJICG) and other key Filipino and Japanese businessmen. 

MVP with MPIC president and CEO Joey Lim, Meralco president and CEO Oscar Reyes, Meralco PowerGen president and CEO Rogelio Singson and delegation hosted by Hitachi in the Hitachi House

The SPJICG was organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in partnership with leaders from the private sector with the objective of maximizing investment cooperation opportunities between the Philippines and Japan. 

In this meeting, it was represented by DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DTI Undersecretaries Rowel Barba and Ceferino Rodolfo, Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Director Maria Lourdes Arcenas, and Private Sector Representative Franklin Evaristo

President Duterte gave the Japanese businessmen the assurance that their projects will not be hampered by bureaucratic delays. The President likewise thanked the Japanese for their support to the Philippines, particularly in humanitarian assistance.   

Worthy to note was what Transportation Secretary Art Tugade said in his speech about our country also having as much airports as in Japan. To quote the good Secretary, “In Japan, they have the option to decide where they fly, how they fly, and what fare they pay when they fly.” Indeed, the more airports there will be, the more that it will benefit the flying public and the Filipino people in general.

From left:  With  Former Philippine Economic Zone Authority director Lilia B. de Lima , DOTr Secretary Tugade, and Suisen, Inc. president  Justin Bryan Uy

The second day of the joint meeting was dedicated to their plenary session at the New World Hotel. 

The JPECC delegation was headed by Teruo Asada as JPECC Chair, also the Chair of Marubeni Corporation; Mitsubishi Corporation Chairman Ken Kobayashi; All Nippon Airways President Shinya Katanozaka; and Japan Air Lines (JAL) Chairman Masaru Onishi.

At the joint meeting, our Chairman, Manuel V. Pangilinan, presented on where he sees the MVP Group will be taking our infrastructure partnership with government in the areas of energy, transport, healthcare, water, and financial inclusion. His presentation was enthusiastically received by the participants.

All in all, economic cooperation between the Philippines and Japan looks very promising, especially in the realm of transport and infrastructure. It would be hard-pressed for this relationship to falter or fade. So long as the sun rises in the East, we could always look to the Land of the Rising Sun as our able partner.

Topics: Philippines - Japan , economic cooperation

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