PNoy, Abe to tackle security amid China row

Posted at 06/23/14 8:24 PM

MANILA - Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet on Tuesday, with regional tensions with China in mind.

Aquino is arriving in Tokyo around noon Tuesday for a visit of less than 24 hours spanning 2 cities.

Charge d'affaires Gilberto Asuque said there are two key issues that Aquino will discuss with Abe.

"First, is regional security, cooperation between the Philippines and Japan in addressing the issues in this region, in the West Philippine Sea and also in the area of Japan in the eastern portion. Then, also what's going to be a key agenda item is of course the Bangsamoro Peace Agreement."

Asuque said Japan supports Manila's policy to raise Philippine capacity in level of awareness for maritime domain.

He said the Japanese government has supported the Philippine government in terms of assistance to the Philippine Coast Guard with 10 patrol crafts.

"We envision to see at least 3 of those patrol vessels delivered by next year and the remaining 7 to be delivered by early part of 2016," Asuque said.

"In addition to patrol crafts, Japan is also providing assistance for a telecommunications system because you may have the platform or the vessels but you need the communications system in order to ensure that the vessel is able to communicate with the command and control office and the Coast Guard," he added.

Japan, like the Philippines, has maritime disputes with China.

Japan has the disputed Senkaku Islands, while the Philippines has parts of the West Philippine Sea. Both are treaty allies of the United states.

"We are grateful for Japan for supporting the fundamental principles by which the Philippines is addressing the West Philippine Sea issue," Asuque said. "Nagpapasalamat nga kami sa Japan, kay Prime Minister Abe dahil sa pag suporta niya sa patakaran ng ating pamahalaan tungkol dito sa sigalot sa West Philippine Sea."

Aquino will be joined in his meetings by Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, Presidential Management Staff Director-General Julia Abad, Assistant Secretary Minda Cruz of the DFA, Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Delantar, interpreter Mariko Nagal, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsonobu, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shinsuke Sugiyama, and other Japanese government officials.

Later in the day, Aquino will travel to Hiroshima to address the Japan International Cooperation Agency conference there. The city where an atomic bomb that ended World War 2 will play host to Aquino, who is expected to talk about the end of the secessionist struggle in Mindanao.

"The conference on the consolidation of peace in Mindanao is an important aspect. I think it’s a key program of President Aquino’s policy to bring lasting and durable peace in Mindanao," Asuque said.

"This conference is important because it will address the issues that need to ensure that the peace agreement will be long lasting and durable. Japan plays an important role in ensuring that takes place in terms of development assistance -- training of people in Mindanao on good governance, transparency and the fundamental principles that President Aquino has been espousing for the duration of his presidency."

Aquino will also be given a tour of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Last week, Japan announced that it is relaxing visa requirements for Filipinos soon.

Filipinos account for 10% of all foreigners living in Japan and have the third-largest population of foreigners in the country.

As of December 2013, there were 206,769 Filipinos in Japan; around 5,722 of them had no valid visas.

Japan is also the Philippines' top trading partner.