Arroyo visit to bolster Philippines-Japan bilateral, economic relations

May. 22, 2007

TOKYO, Japan – The four-day visit here of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to further strengthen the bilateral and economic relations between the Philippines and Japan and cement the two countries’ cooperation in the peace and security in the region.

In a press briefing here, Philippine Ambassador to Japan Domingo Siazon Jr. said the President will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other top Japanese officials for wide-ranging discussions on Philippine-Japanese relations, including trade, investments and security in the region.

The President, who is scheduled to arrive here tonight, will also hold a series of meetings with leading Japanese businessmen to brief them on investment possibilities in the Philippines.

The Philippine leader, whose last visit to Tokyo was in December 2003, is the guest of honor of the 13th Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia on Thursday (May 24) at the Fuji Room of the Imperial Hotel here.

Siazon underscored the need to further strengthen the country’s bilateral and economic ties with Japan, the Philippines’ second largest trading partner and biggest source of the foreign development assistance.

This year alone, Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines has increased 75 percent over the previous year.

Last year, the total volume of trade between Japan and the Philippines reached $14.7 billion, with the Philippines enjoying a trade surplus of $700 million, Siazon said.

Already the third largest group of visitors to the Philippines at more than 400,000 a year, the number of Japanese tourists is expected to hit one million annually once more hotels are available.

Japan hosts more than 200,000 Filipino workers, and the number is still growing, Siazon said.

He said that the ratification by the Philippine Senate of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA), which was signed by the President and former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Finland last September 2006, would pave the way for the entry into Japan of Filipino professionals, including, doctors, engineers and nurses.

“I hope that the Philippine Senate would ratify this (treaty) soon so that we can start bringing more Filipino workers here,” Siazon said.

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