Senator Win Gatchalian said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to the Philippines will pave the way for stronger economic and security cooperation between the two nations.
“Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to the country couldn’t be more timely given recent developments,” said Gatchalian, referring to the Philippines’ decision to withdraw a request for overseas development assistance (ODA) from China as well as the Chinese Coast Guard’s worsening aggression in the West Philippine Sea.
According to Gatchalian, Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) along with the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and other multilateral funding institutions have a long history of providing funding support for the Philippines and they have successfully funded many projects in the country with concessionary interest rates and terms.
Gatchalian said that research conducted by his office shows that ODAs coming from Japan have favorable financing costs compared to those provided by China. JICA has active ODA grants totaling P9.8 billion, as of December 2022, based on the consolidated audit report on ODA-funded programs and projects released by the Commission on Audit, he added. These ODA grants to the Philippines from Japan include the Metro Manila Subway Project, North-South Commuter Railway Project, and Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Projects for the Philippine Coastguard.
In terms of regional security, Prime Minister Kishida’s visit could also bolster the two countries’ efforts in cultivating regional cooperation amid China’s continuing provocation in the West Philippine Sea that has been causing security concerns in the region, according to Gatchalian.
The Philippines and Japan are expected to discuss the Reciprocal Access Agreement between Japan’s defense forces and the Philippine military to bring troops and equipment into each other’s countries. Japan is also expected to provide coastal radar systems and patrol vessels to the Philippines to bolster the country’s surveillance capabilities.