TO TOKYO President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., with first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos beside him, waves before departing for Japan on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR

Marcos to sign key deals in Japan visit

(UPDATE) PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is hopeful that his visit to Japan will result in the implementation of projects that have been abandoned because of the pandemic, as well as the signing of key agreements in agriculture, energy, digital transformation, defense and infrastructure.

“We’re finalizing some of the projects that were postponed because of the pandemic, lockdowns,” the President told reporters en route to Tokyo.

Marcos said that he aims to strengthen “the bonds of friendship with a close neighbor, like-minded and future-oriented like us in many ways and a most reliable partner in times of both crises and prosperity.”

The President and Prime Minister Kishida Fumio are set to sign key deals in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, infrastructure, agriculture and digital cooperation.

The President will also hold meetings with Japan’s business leaders to promote trade and investment opportunities in the Philippines.

“In these meetings, I will be joined by my economic team and key private sector representatives who have been and will continue to be our partners in growing the Philippine economy,” the President said in his departure speech at the Villamor Air Base.

The President will also deliver a keynote address during the Philippine Business Opportunity seminar to be attended by “hundreds of top Japanese businessmen.”

The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo had said the President’s trip to Japan is seen to generate P150 billion in investment pledges that can result in the employment of some 8,000 Filipinos.

Japan has been a major bilateral trade and official development partner, consistent in its commitment to uphold the same values aligned with Manila’s economic and development priorities.

Marcos was joined by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco, Special Assistant to the President Anton Lagdameo Jr., and Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil, among others.

“My bilateral visit to Japan is essential and is part of a larger foreign policy agenda to forge closer political ties, stronger defense and security cooperation, as well as lasting economic partnerships with major countries in the region amid a challenging global environment,” he said in his pre-departure speech.

The President will also sign an umbrella term of reference on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) cooperation between the Department of National Defense and the Ministry of Defense of Japan.

Other important agreements include the signing of an exchange of notes with regard to loan agreements on infrastructure, namely the North-South Commuter Railway from Malolos to Tutuban, and the North-South Commuter Railway extension from Malolos, Bulacan to Clark International Airport and Tutuban to Calamba, Laguna with the Philippine government represented by Secretary Manalo.

These involve around $3 billion worth of loans with the Department of Finance as the other signatory.

There is also the proposed agreement on cooperation in the field of information and communications technology, which will be signed by Manalo on behalf of the Department of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan Uy and a memorandum of cooperation between the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries on agricultural cooperation.

The President will wrap up his visit to Japan, his ninth since assuming office in June last year, by meeting with the Filipino community before flying back to Manila.

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