Home Editors' Picks PHL, Japan set to hold ‘high-level’ meeting

PHL, Japan set to hold ‘high-level’ meeting

A person holds Japan’s national flag at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan, Jan. 2, 2020. — REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON

THE PHILIPPINES and Japan will hold a high-level meeting on infrastructure development and economic cooperation this week, the Department of Finance (DoF) said, after Japan wrapped up its five-year aid commitment to the Philippines.

The two countries on Feb. 16 will discuss updates on financing extended by Japan for the Philippine coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response, along with advances on Japan-funded program supporting the peace process in Mindanao, DoF said in a press release on Monday.

The Japanese government donated over a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the Philippines last year.

Japan-backed coronavirus response projects also include support for medical equipment procurement and cold chain storage system development in the Philippines. The Asian Development Bank has also said it will also extend a $2-million technical assistance grant from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction to support health policy reforms in local government units.

Meanwhile, Japan has also been extending loans and grants supporting the Mindanao peace process, including road network projects in areas affected by conflict and agriculture livelihood assistance.

“Japan has been actively supporting these peace-building programs through the framework of the Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development,” the DoF said.

The discussion, which will be done through teleconferencing, is the two countries’ 12th high-level meeting on infrastructure development and economic cooperation.

The first high-level committee meeting was held in 2017, after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe committed to provide ¥1 trillion (about P446 billion) in financing support to the Philippines over five years, mostly funding big-ticket infrastructure projects.

The DoF in July last year said Japan’s funding commitment had been completed, adding that the country plans to further expand its assistance to the Philippines.

In the upcoming meeting, the Philippine side will be chaired by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, with Japan Special Advisor to the Prime Minister Mori Masafumi as his counterpart.

Discussions during the meeting will also include updates on the Japan-supported big-ticket projects under the government infrastructure program, including the Metro Manila Subway, the North-South Commuter Railway project, rehabilitation of the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), Dalton Pass East Alignment Road, Central Mindanao Highway, and the Parañaque Spillway.

Last month, Japan also extended $13 million in aid for humanitarian responses in areas affected by Typhoon Odette, which hit parts of Visayas and Mindanao in December.

Japan was the Philippines’ top source of official development assistance over the two decades leading up to 2020, DoF data showed. Japan accounted for $14.139 billion worth of loans or 72% of the foreign aid portfolio over 2001 to 2020. — Jenina P. Ibañez