ASIAN ALLIES Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (left) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida during a press conference at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. Marcos is on a five-day official visit to Japan to boost defense and economic ties. PHOTO BY KIMIMASA MAYAMA/POOL/AFP

Japan grants PH P246-B aid package

(UPDATE) TOKYO: Japan has granted the Philippines a record 600 billion Japanese yen or over P246 billion in official development assistance (ODA) to help the Marcos administration carry out its economic development agenda.It is the biggest ODA package the Philippines has received from Japan.The Japanese embassy in Manila said in a statement Friday that the ODA was announced by Japan’s Prime Minister Kishida Fumio after his bilateral summit with President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.On Friday, Marcos also met with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) President Akihiko Tanaka, who expressed the agency’s all-out support for the Philippines’ development agenda.”Yesterday, I think you had a good conversation with the Prime Minister,” Tanaka told Marcos, referring to the President’s meeting with Kishida.Tanaka also hailed the signing of loan agreements with the Philippines to provide Japan’s ODA loans for the North-South Commuter Railway Project (Malolos-Tutuban) II and the North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project II. “In behalf of my family, in behalf of my countrymen, we would like to thank you and we look forward [to] a continuing partnership in the future,” Marcos told Tanaka.JICA is the world’s biggest bilateral aid agency, with a presence in over 150 countries and regions. It is also a top Philippine partner in socio-economic development. Marcos and Kishida agreed to implement ODA projects and explore public-private partnerships in infrastructure development such as railways, bridges and roads, through the High-Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation.Kishida welcomed the signing of the Exchange of Notes concerning the provision of a Japanese loan, worth 377 billion yen, for the development of the North-South Community Railway and its extension, and said Japan is ready to extend another Post-Disaster Stand-by Loan, amounting to 30 billion yen.Also on Friday, the President witnessed the signing of 35 letters of intent (LOI) or agreements between Japanese companies and their Philippine counterparts.After the signing ceremony, the President thanked the Japanese firms for choosing the Philippines as “a place and partner to grow your businesses.” “We have been advancing vital and game-changing reforms to improve the country’s business environment, and it is our hope that companies such as yours will not only find the Philippines to be an attractive investment destination,” Marcos said. The Philippines has “eased restrictions on foreign nationals to own businesses in the Philippines,” he added. Marcos said concerned government agencies have been required to set up “green lanes” to streamline the processing of permits and licenses.He said he has also prescribed a maximum of three working days for simple transactions and 20 working days for highly technical transactions.Topping the LOI list is a memorandum of cooperation between the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro), signed by Trade Secretary Alfred Pascual and Nobuhiko Sasaki, Jetro chairman and chief executive officer.Agreements were signed for Asti Corp.’s wiring harness manufacturing expansion; Brother Industries, Ltd.’s printer manufacturing expansion; DoubleDragon Corp./IwataChizaki Inc.’s hotel construction; Itochu Corp.’s expansion of pineapple production volume; Japan Tobacco Inc.’s factory expansion; Kurabe Industrial Co., Ltd.’s new factory for car parts; Marubeni Corp.’s energy, transportation, health care and afforestation projects; MinebeaMitsumi Inc.’s new factory for OIS (optical image stabilizer) production and solar project; Mitsubishi Corp.’s infrastructure development, construction activities, transportation, commercial and residential real estate development and mass housing projects; and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s automobile manufacturing expansion and commitment renewal to meet production targets.Also on the list were Nidec Corp.’s (Nidec-Shimpo Corp.) speed reducer gear manufacturing expansion; Nomura Real Estate Development Co., Ltd./ GT Capital Holdings’ property development; Renova, Inc., renewable energy project; Sojitz Corp.’s property development and telecommunications projects; Taiheiyo Cement Philippines Inc. kiln renewal, distribution terminal and berth reinforcement project; Tamiya Inc.’s new factory for plastic models and RC cars; TDK Corp.’s new factory for next generation HDD heads and components project; Toyota Motor Corp.’s light commercial vehicle (LCV) manufacturing; and Yamaichi Electronics’ new factory for IC sockets.Other deals include Kawasaki Heavy Industries/Aboitiz/ Amber Kinetics/IKS Co. Ltd.’s mechanical energy storage technology; Ubicom Holdings Inc./Advanced World Systems Inc.’s software development outsourcing; Department of Environment and Natural Resources/ Marubeni Corp./Dacon Corp.-Joint Credit Mechanism project; Hitachi, Ltd. and Filinvest Development Corp.’s development, construction, and operation of desalination facilities to supply potable water to Metropolitan Cebu; Sumitomo Corp.’s North South Commuter Rail/Metro Manila Subway, rolling stock project; Oriental Energy and Power Generation Corp./Marubeni Corp.’s development and operation of renewable power plants; Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd.’s multi-layer ceramic capacitors factory expansion; Kenko Tokina Co. Ltd.’s telescope factory expansion; Hankyu Hanshin Properties Corp. and W Landmark Inc.’s co-investment in a REIT, and joint venture in commercial real estate development activities; and JERA Co. Inc. and Aboitiz Power Corp.’s cooperation in development of ammonia and hydrogen value chains in the Philippines, and assessing the feasibility of ammonia co-fired power generation in the country.There were also the Sojitz Corp. and Maestro Holdings Inc. joint venture in health care, logistics and warehousing, education; Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. and Mitsubishi Estates Co., Ltd. – Housing project; Ceremonial hand-over of Certificate of Gratitude: AMEN and Go Negosyo; and Bases Conversion and Development Authority and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization – demonstration project for the development of smart mobility.Pascual said the agreement with Jetro will help promote local industries, and enable them to “learn from the new technologies that Japanese companies and businesses employ, which Filipinos can adopt to improve products and services.” An economic analyst said on Friday that Marcos’ five-day visit to Japan is crucial in the government’s effort to attract more foreign direct investments to the country.Michael Ricafort, chief economist at Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., said the President’s visit is “really timely,” since there are measures that eased restrictions on foreign nationals from owning businesses in the Philippines.”So, mas allowed na po iyong mga foreigners sa mga iba’t ibang industriya lalo na po pagdating sa ibang utilities. At saka dati na rin pong maraming investments po dito iyong mga Japanese companies; may ka-partner na rin ang mga pinakamalaking negosyo po sa ating bansa (So, foreigners are further allowed in different industries, especially when it comes to other utilities. Also, Japanese companies used to make a lot of investments here; the biggest businesses in our country have partners),” Ricafort said.Ricafort said the entry of Japanese foreign direct investments will pump up the country’s effort to develop key tourist destinations.Japan is also a key destination for migrant Filipino workers, especially health care workers to look after its aging population, he said.

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