MANILA – Japan said Thursday it would provide 1 trillion yen (P434 billion) in aid and investments to help the Philippines overhaul its infrastructure, as the two countries pledged to strengthen economic ties.
President Rodrigo Duterte received Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Malacanang, underscoring the alliance between the two Asian allies, as the Filipino leader closes ranks with China, their common rival in disputed waters.
“For the further development of the Philippines, we will create business opportunities through ODA (official development assistance) and private sector investments, which together will be of the order of one trillion yen over the next five years,” Abe said in a joint press conference with Duterte.
“We will leverage Japanese technology and know-how to the fullest extent to positively cooperate for the improvement of infrastructure in Metro Manila and the whole of the Philippines,” he said through an interpreter.
Tokyo, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency, is helping Manila study the feasibility of building railways that will connect the capital to nearby provinces and the first-ever rail system in Mindanao.
Duterte said Manila and Tokyo’s economic agencies were instructed to “seek new areas for collaboration” and work for the fulfillment of agreements signed during his visit to Japan last year.
“We are encouraging our business sectors to intensify two-way trade and investment,” Duterte said.
Duterte secured $1.85 billion in investment pledges during his visit to Japan last year. These include deals with Toyota Motors Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors.
Abe is the first foreign head of government to be hosted by Duterte since he assumed office in June last year.
Manila is the Japanese leader’s first foreign trip of the year and Abe said this showed how he put “much emphasis” on his relationship with Duterte.