The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday that Manila and Tokyo will sign seven bilateral agreements during President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s official visit to Japan next week.
The visit seeks to “maximize the full potential of the Philippine-Japan strategic partnership in all its aspects and facilitate closer defense, security, political, economic, and people-to-people ties,” DFA Assistant Secretary Nathaniel Imperial said.
The agreements include humanitarian assistance on disaster relief or HADR cooperation, he said.
“Japan has been a very important partner providing assistance in relation to disaster relief and we certainly welcome this agreement,” Imperial told reporters in a Palace briefing.
Imperial said that there will also be discussions on a security agreement that could happen in the future, but the HADR cooperation would come first.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo will lead “an exchange of notes” on some $3 billion worth of infrastructure loan agreements for the North-South Commuter Railway and its extension. This will later on be signed by the Department of Finance, Imperial said.
Imperial said Manalo would also sign an agreement on information and communications technology on behalf of Information and Communication Technology Secretary Ivan John Uy.
“We are already exporting a lot of agricultural products to Japan. [We hope]… this visit will result in more exports of agricultural products to Japan, especially our bananas and avocados,” he said.
President Marcos will visit Japan from Feb. 8 to 12.
The DFA said Wednesday said one issue the President will not raise is reparations for “comfort women” who were forced to provide Japanese soldiers sexual services during World War II.
Imperial said all war-related compensation claims by the Philippine government are already settled, so there is no need for the Chief Executive to bring them up during the visit.
“All war-related claims are deemed to have been settled by our 1956 reparations agreement with Japan,” Imperial said.
However, he said the government will not stop private individuals from pursuing claims.
“We will not stop… the victims because this is an atrocious violence against the women during the war,” he said.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, surviving Filipino women who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during World War II called on the Japanese government to acknowledge its war crimes and resolve the “comfort women” issue.
In a statement, Lila Pilipina, an organization helping the Filipino women in their fight for justice, said Japan must “take the necessary steps toward a fair and long-overdue resolution of the comfort women issue.”
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, Japanese soldiers forced about a thousand Filipino women to serve them.
At the same time, Imperial said the controversy over four Japanese fugitives wanted for crimes in Japan and detained in the Philippines would not affect the President’s trip to Japan.
“If there is a decision to deport these concerned Japanese nationals, the Philippines will follow the timeline of deportation proceedings in accordance with the Philippine laws,” Imperial said.
“We feel that this is totally unrelated to the visit of the President. This is a consular matter being handled by the Department of Justice and the Japanese Embassy here and our embassy in Japan with the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo,” Imperial added.