February 2, 2023
MANILA, Philippines — At least seven agreements covering various areas of cooperation will be signed between the Philippines and Japan during President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s official working visit to Tokyo next week, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said on Wednesday.
In a press briefing in Malacañang, DFA Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Neal Imperial said the trip, scheduled from Feb. 8 to Feb. 12, will include a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and an audience with Emperor Naruhito.
“The DFA considers the President’s visit to Japan as consequential. Japan is the first country with which the Philippines has forged a strategic partnership and is only one of two strategic partners of the Philippines, the other one being Vietnam,” he added.
Japan, according to Imperial, is the only country with which the Philippines has a bilateral free trade agreement called the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement. In 2021, he said, Japan was the Philippines’ second largest trading partner as well as the third largest export market and second top source of imports.
Asked about the seven agreements, Imperial mentioned an “umbrella term of reference” on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief cooperation to be signed by the defense secretary and his Japanese counterpart.
He said DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo will also be signing an exchange of notes on loan agreements for the North-South Commuter Railway from Malolos City to Tutuban, Manila; and the North-South Commuter Railway extensions from Malolos to Clark International Airport, and from Tutuban to Calamba City, Laguna.
These involve around $3 billion worth of loans to be covered by an agreement that the Department of Finance will sign.
Imperial also said there is a proposed agreement on cooperation in the field of information and communications technology, that will be signed by Manalo on behalf of Information and Communications Technology Secretary Ivan Uy who will not be able to join the trip.
A memorandum of cooperation between the Department of Agriculture and the Japanese ministry of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries on agricultural cooperation could also be expected to be signed by Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban.