Japan minister pledges support for Mindanao infra

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Sunday met with President Rodrigo Duterte to extend Japan’s willingness to improve the infrastructure in Mindanao.

Japan minister pledges support for Mindanao infra
OFFICIAL VISIT. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomes Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono during a courtesy call on the President at the Matina Enclaves in Davao City on February 9, 2019. Kono is in the Philippines for a three-day official visit. Presidential Photo
Malacañang said Kono, who is here for a three-day official visit, paid a courtesy call on Duterte at the Matina Enclaves Residences in Davao City.

“Foreign Minister Kono said Japan welcomes the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. He also mentioned that Japan would like to continue to support the development of Mindanao,” the Palace said in a statement.

With the BOL, the government hopes to address the people’s aspiration for genuine autonomy and end the decades-old conflict in the region through the establishment of a more powerful and self-governing Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Kono also said Japan will support capacity-building during the transition period of the BOL, vowing to give job and livelihood creation for former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatants.

“Japan will support the Philippines’ efforts to ensure peace and stability in the region,” he said. “Japan is ready to expand our support as the peace process progress.”

Kono, along with Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koji Haneda and Davao Consul General Yoshiaki Miwa, has expressed Japan’s sympathy to the victims of the two fatal blasts that rocked Jolo last month.

His official visit is the first for Japan’s top minister. Kono’s visit also come months after Chinese Foreign Minister and State Councilor Wang Yi paid Duterte a visit in October last year.

A day after his courtesy call on Duterte, Kono held a bilateral meeting with Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and held an exchange of notes in relation to the “Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao.”

Japan pledged to lend almost $200 million for the road network that “supports the foundation of people’s lives in Mindanao by improving access to schools and hospitals and by revitalizing economic activities in the region.”

In a joint press conference held Sunday, Locsin viewed the meeting as “an opportunity for stocktaking and for advancing our cooperation to more mutually-beneficial outcomes.”

He said Japan had been helping Duterte achieve his transformative agenda for the Philippines in terms of infrastructure, social inclusion and securing peace and progress in the southernmost part of the country.

“We emerge from this morning’s meeting freshly confident about prospects for realizing Mindanao’s promise in the wake of positive, indeed striking developments, in bringing Bangsamoro to reality. The inauguration of the Japanese Consulate-General later this evening demonstrates Japan’s enduring commitment to Mindanao, especially with the ratification of the BOL,” Locsin said.

“The two of us come from a productive meeting this morning with a single mind ― that our two countries must sustain the effort to keep and to grow the gains of our Strategic Partnership. Building on past achievements, and seizing opportunities offered by the future, this partnership will flourish and endure.”

Foreign Affairs has already said that Kono’s visit is a “testament to the strengthened strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan, and an affirmation of our long-standing bilateral friendship.”

READ: Japanese envoy Kono to visit PH this weekend


Topics: Taro Kono , Rodrigo Duterte , Bangsamoro Organic Law , Moro Islamic Liberation Front
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