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What PHL will gain from Japan imperial couple’s visit

2 February 2016 No CommentEmail This Post Email This Post
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños Laguna on Friday (January 29) the last day of their five-day official visit to the Philippines. (MNS photo)

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños Laguna on Friday (January 29) the last day of their five-day official visit to the Philippines. (MNS photo)

MANILA  (Mabuhay) – The Japanese imperial couple’s visit to the Philippines will strengthen Philippines’ diplomatic ties with Japan and lead to economic opportunities for both countries, an official said.

Philippine Ambassador to Japan, Manuel Lopez said the Philippine state visit, a first for Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko in over five decades, shows a deepening of ties between the two Asian nations.

The ambassador said the announcement of the visit initially came as a surprise, noting the Japanese emperor and empress rarely travel and the Philippine government is up against many other invitations for the couple sent by various countries.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños Laguna on Friday (January 29) the last day of their five-day official visit to the Philippines. (MNS photo)

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños Laguna on Friday (January 29) the last day of their five-day official visit to the Philippines. (MNS photo)

“Since a few years ago we’ve been trying to work on the imperial royal family but we were only focusing on the crown prince because the emperor and empress hardly travels… When we were told a few months ago that it’s now the emperor and the empress coming to the Philippines we could not believe it, we were surprised,” said Lopez.

Lopez acknowledged a “natural progression of relationship” between Japan and the Philippines, with “foreign direct investments from Japan going up year after year, followed by tourism.”

The past few years have also witnessed a series of big economic and political partnerships sealed between the two countries, including the agreement on military aids for the Philippines, Japan’s expression of support for the Mindanao peace process, and the $2 billion loan pledged by the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) to fund Philippines’ railway project.

Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan pay tribute to the war dead Japanese soldiers at the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya Laguna, Friday (January 29), the last day of their five-day state visit in the Philippines. (MNS photo)

Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan pay tribute to the war dead Japanese soldiers at the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya Laguna, Friday (January 29), the last day of their five-day state visit in the Philippines. (MNS photo)

Lopez said the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) also paved the way for an increased Japanese direct investments in the country.

“We have become much more competitive compared to our ASEAN neighbors so barriers have been reduce, have been made almost zero, ever since the JPEPA came into play, so that display the very important factor in the entry of Japanese businessmen,” he said.

He also said many more Japanese foreign investments in the country are on the line, soonest to materialize of which is the establishment of the car manufacturing programs.

Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan pay tribute to the war dead Japanese soldiers at the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya Laguna, Friday (January 29), the last day of their five-day state visit in the Philippines. (MNS photo)

Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan pay tribute to the war dead Japanese soldiers at the Japanese Memorial Garden in Caliraya Laguna, Friday (January 29), the last day of their five-day state visit in the Philippines. (MNS photo)

“There’s so many projects in the pipe line, the one that will be coming up quite soon will be the car manufacturing program and we can see in the near future Japanese automobile companies setting up their factories here, together with their suppliers, with their spare parts manufactures, which will create thousands of new jobs for Filipinos. So we’re very excited about this because this will boost our economy definitely,” Lopez said.

But Lopez said the strong bilateral relations does not only benefit Japanese companies as the Filipino companies now have gained more opportunities for investments in Japan.

“We’re seeing now more and more Filipinos companies opening offices in Japan like the banks— Metrobank, BPI, BDO. Little by little we can see a bigger presence of Filipino companies in Japan,” he said.

“With a little improvement on our side plus the reduction of tariffs I think you can see in the future more and more two-way investments,” he added. (MNS)

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