His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
during the joint press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan
[Delivered at Sofitel Plaza on November 19, 2015]
Your Excellency Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan; his official delegation; members of the Cabinet present; members of the press; ladies and gentlemen:
Often, when I speak of the relations between the Philippines and Japan, I call ours a bond that transcends diplomacy. Apart from the cultural and historical ties our countries enjoy, the frequency of our meetings, as well as our close cooperation in a broad range of issues, are proof positive of our deep friendship. As I have come to expect, my meeting with Prime Minister Abe today was extremely productive, and the Philippines welcomes the strides we have made in several areas.
For instance, since my State Visit to Japan this June, both our countries have made substantial progress in implementing our Joint Declaration for a Strengthened Strategic Partnership and its Action Plan. During our meeting, the Prime Minister and I reaffirmed the deepening of the Strategic Partnership. In fact, we have taken a significant step forward in enhancing our defense and security relations by agreeing in principle on the Transfer of Defense Equipment and Technology, and we are hopeful that we can conclude and sign this Agreement sooner rather than later.
With the understanding that the progress of Japan, the Philippines, and all other nations in the region are founded on peace and stability, we likewise took the opportunity to discuss the security challenges that confront both our nations, and pledged to cooperate in advancing our shared advocacy for members of the international community to act responsibly.
We have also taken steps to strengthen our relations beyond the realm of physical security. Our economic relations are vibrant and robust. Japan remains the Philippines’ largest bilateral trading partner and among the largest sources of investments. We hope to further boost the synergies of our economic cooperation for the benefit and progress of the peoples of both our countries and the greater region. Today, this can be most prominently seen in the signing of the Philippines-Japan Social Security Agreement, which will maintain the benefit rights of workers who have divided their careers between the Philippines and Japan.
We likewise extend gratitude to Japan for their role in helping usher in development into the Philippines. Japan’s Official Development Assistance has been vital in helping improve our investment climate through infrastructure development. An example of this is the signing of the Exchange of Notes and the Loan Agreement for the North-South Commuter Railway Project, connecting Malolos to Tutuban, which we witnessed earlier. This will certainly help us improve the land transportation capacity of the greater Metro Manila area and provide a more environmentally sustainable mode of transport. Moving forward, we hope to continue making concrete progress in our Cooperation Roadmap for Quality Infrastructure Development in the Transport Sector in Metropolitan Manila Area.
The Filipino people truly appreciate Japan’s continued support with regard to the Bangsamoro Peace Process by means of the implementation of the second phase of the Japan Bangsamoro Initiative for Reconstruction and Development (JBIRD). On behalf of the Filipino people, I once again thank the Japanese people for their immeasurable kindness.
There is no question that, more than being Strategic Partners, the Philippines and Japan have a special bond of friendship—one built on a similar belief in placing the welfare of our people front and center, and being upstanding members of the global community who seek the collective growth and progress of the world we share, a world where no one should be left behind.
Thank you, and good day.