Press Briefing by Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella with Japan’s Foreign Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura
Press Briefing Room, New Executive Building, Malacañang
12 January 2017

Malacañang Press Corps. 

We like to welcome you to this special press briefing being held in connection with the state visit of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. 

Our guest for tonight is Press Secretary Yasuhisa Kawamura.

Mr. Kawamura is the Press Secretary and Director General for Press and Public Diplomacy of the Government of Japan. Among his assignments were minister and deputy chief of mission in the Embassy of Japan in India, deputy chief of mission and deputy consul general in the consulate general of Japan in New York, and deputy press secretary for foreign minister.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Malacañang Press Corps, let us all give a warm welcome for Mr. Yasuhisa Kawamura. 

PRESS SECRETARY KAWAMURA: Good evening. Thank you very much for your kind introduction. I’m Mr. Kawamura, press secretary of the Japanese Foreign Minister.

For today — before setting my briefing in today’s summit meeting between Japan and the Philippines, I assumed that most of you have already followed the joint statements by the two leaders. Okay. So I don’t repeat the same statement again here. 

Rather, I would like to start on the brief sketch of what the two leaders discussed in today’s meeting. 

The meeting started from 3:45 for approximately 40 minutes. And they discussed first the bilateral issues, bilateral relations and regional issues. 

First, the bilateral relationship. The following was the summary of what Prime Minister Abe said in the meeting.

Japan will support to create business opportunities approximately 1 trillion yen level for over the next five years, including a Japanese ODA, Official Development Assistance and private investments for the Philippines.  

Towards this economic support, Japan would like to establish a joint committee on the economic cooperation and infrastructure and Japan would also send experts to the National Economic Development Agency of the Philippines in this regard. 

Japan would like to contribute to the infrastructure development in the areas including the transportation, electricity generation by taking advantage of the Japanese technology and know-how. 

Towards the realization of the Clark Green City concept, Japan has been during the research on the railroad system, Japan would like to cooperate in this regard by using the Japanese expertise in this area. 

Japan would also like to cooperate for the peace and development of Mindanao.

Japan will [unclear] decide the concrete support for the following areas:

First, the urban development of Davao City. And counter flat measures. Irrigation of the conflict affected areas, a road construction, power generation, sanitation, and education and support. 

On the issue of illegal drug, anti-illegal drug measures, Japan would like to cooperate with the Philippines hand-in-hand and create the effective support measures. 

After, from next month and on, Japan would like to send the high-ranking officials. Sorry, Japan would like to invite the high-ranking officials of the relative agencies of Philippines to Japan. And to follow this up, Japan will support the equipment and installation and the development of the treatment programs and human capacity building. 

On the issue of security and terrorism, anti-terrorism measures, Japan welcomes today the exchange of — the conclusion of the exchange of notes between our two countries concerning the high-speed boats. Japan would accelerate its decision to support, in fact to make a further support providing the security-related equipment to the Philippines. 

In the area of maritime security, Japan will further support the Philippines’ capacity building, including the — through the provision of patrol boats and human capacity building. 

As you may remember that in the last time, Prime Minister Abe was in the Philippines, we agree to provide the loan, the TC-90, which is the exercise plane of the Japanese Self-Defense Force. 

Concerning this TC-90, which is expected to transfer to the Philippines, Japan has now in conducting the education for the Filipino pilots for this TC-90.

The Balikatan, which is the joint exercises conducted between the United States and the Philippines. For this year’s Balikatan, the Japanese Self-Defense Force is going to attend. 

Japan will continue to cooperate —promote the cooperation in the defense area, including the capacity building and equipment, and training and exercises and so on. 

We also welcome the exchange of notes on the digital transmission system and climate-related bilateral created systems. 

I think you have witnessed the exchange of documents of those three areas. 

In response from Mr. Duterte, I think this is actually the Philippine side so I should very brief. Just one word. The reaction in reply to what Prime Minister Abe said in the beginning. Mr. Duterte said that he agrees, welcomes the strategic partnership with Japan and Japanese. He appreciated the Japanese assistance for its engagement with the capacity building of the Philippines, including maritime security and anti-terrorism measures and so on. And he also said his thanks to the Japanese support in the Mindanao development and peace efforts. And on the question of the business development, he said that he would like to enhance the environment for the businesses. 

On the question of the regional situations, Prime Minister Abe said that this year is the ASEAN’s — the Philippines will host the ASEAN meetings. So, Prime Minister Abe said that Japan would like to cooperate proactively on the issues of the region together with the Philippines as chair of the ASEAN. 

And the ASEAN’s solidarity and centrality should be strengthened and it is important to devolve ASEAN as open community. 

From that perspective, Japan will be prepared and happy to provide maximum support for the Philippines. 

And concerning the TPP, Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, Japan seeks to the early entry into force of the agreement and he expressed his readiness about this. 

And RCEP negotiations. Prime Minister Abe said that he would like to seek early conclusion of the high [unclear] treaty by cooperating closely with the Philippines. 

And Prime Minister Abe said that he would like to strengthen the defense cooperation with ASEAN and concerning the financial safety nets, he would like to do his utmost for the development of the financial safety nets.

And the South China Sea issue, Prime Minister Abe said that by conserving the final judgment of the tribunal court on the issue of the South China Sea, by taking into copnsideration the ASEAN-related conferences this year, he underlined again the importance of the rule of law and the peaceful resolution of the issue. 

On the issue of North Korea, he emphasized the importance of the rigorous implementation of the series of UN Security Council resolutions, including the most recent one concerning the nuclear and missile development by DPRK, which has become, which has entered the new stage for the threat of the international security. 

And in relation to North Korea, Prime Minister Abe said he would like to cooperate for the early resolution of the issue, so-called the abduction issue of the Japanese citizens, which is the most important issue for the Abe administration.

In response, President Duterte said that the Japan and the Philippines over the past 60 years, the friendly relations has been enhanced. And he expect, he said he would expect that such a relationship will be further strengthened and the Philippines will support Japan in all the related areas. 

Okay, thank you for your patience. This is the crux of the meeting. Can I invite questions?

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA: We’ll entertain a few questions. Four or five. Please identify yourself. 

Q: Mynardo Macaraig, Agence France-Presse. Sir can we get some elaboration on the one trillion yen? How much of that is ODA? How much of that is private sector? And just how will it come in? 

PRESS SECRETARY KAWAMURA: Okay. The one trillion yen level of support for the business creation, business opportunities creation in the Philippines for the next five years, which includes the Japanese official development assistance, so-called ODA, and Japanese private investments. But the ratio between the official ODA and the private investment, well I cannot say it because this is estimation for the next five years. 

Then the next question that may arise is how can we estimate that for the next five years, the one trillion yen? But there’s the past trend of the Japanese ODA to the Philippines and Japanese cooperations, direct — foreign direct investments to the Philippines plus other government-related official fund, we call it OOF.

So those are the three figures in the past and then created the possible target for the next five years. The crux, the bottom line of this announcement is that Japan is very eager to promote cooperation for the business and the economic development of the Philippines by utilizing all those available resources. 

But at the same time, the Prime Minister also underlined the importance that this is a two-way street. This is not just a one-way flow of the investments, of money. But for a very effective and comprehensive development of the Philippine economy, I’d like to emphasize that the business and investment-friendly environment inside of the Philippines is [unclear] so we very much appreciate if the Philippines’ private sector understands this point of cooperating with us. 

And then towards that goal, as I said before, today we have agreed to establish the joint committee on the economic cooperation on the infrastructure development. 

The top figure of this committee was already named from the Japanese side. We’re expecting that the counterpart of the announcement from the Philippines’ side, in the next, in the future.

And then we’ll make joint efforts. Of course. Yes? 

Q: I mean, the one trillion yen, I think that’s 8.76 billion dollars. Can you give us a comparative figure for, say, the previous five years of ODA and investment? You said the trend is towards one trillion. 

PRESS SECRETARY KAWAMURA: Well actually sometimes the figures of each year fluctuates.  You take the ODA for example. Depending on the conditions of the economy, the Philippines have conditions of the natural disasters and so on. So I’ll give you the overall figures of the past years.

Japan has thus far have provided the ODA of approximately 20 billion dollars to the Philippines and the Philippines is the most important partner for its economic development and —-

Q: [off mic] 

PRESS SECRETARY KAWAMURA: to the Philippines, from the Philippines side 
Q: [off mic]

PRESS SECRETARY KAWAMURA: —- over the — okay let me check the start of the ODA, maybe over the past 50, plus 50 years, I’ll give you later. For the Philippines, Japan has been the absolutely top donor, as you know. Over 50 percent of the cooperations that the Philippines received is from Japan. Thank you. 

Q: Good evening. My name is Cliff Venzon from Nikkei. Do we know who are the companies involved on the private sector part of the —

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: For the one trillion? 

Q: Yes, and so and whats kind of investments are  they looking at  this.. and then my second is can you give us an idea on—about what happened during the expanded meeting with Japan and the Philippine business delegates and like, how it was facilitated, was the consultation and what did the parties say during that session?

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: First of all, the last question of business related part, I’ll come to you later ‘cause I did not attend it. And the—which companies? Your first question. At this moment, the list of those companies are not? No.

So it’s up to private sector and say initiatives and engagement. So, the role of the government is to create the environment friendly for the investment and the business opportunities.

Q: Are we looking, at this point? 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Well for now, first of all, we established the committee, joint committee with the Philippines. Then, we will consider what — in which areas, what items—which…  

So for example, the ODA based on the necessity, necessity based the ODA. We will estimate, targeting the, of the Philippine nation. So we will elaborate the, this respective demand for the infrastructure and then infrastructure development through the PPP provision.

And the other important economic cooperation matters, we will decide it accordingly. So in this committee—we… first of all we have to decide the formation of the committee members, membership, the frequency of the meeting and [unclear] and so long. And then we will consult such demand for the infrastructure development and estimations and evaluations and the economic development policies and then so on. 

Q: The composition of the committee will be—will it be a public and private individuals or –if on the government side at what level is the involvement?

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Well for the further details, we will decide it later. As far as the Japanese side is concerned, the top of the committee, is already named so easily. He is the senior adviser to the Prime Minister. 

Q: Good evening, Kawamura-san, I am Ronron Calunsod from Kyodo News – Manila office. Just two questions. In his remarks, Prime Minister Abe said we also had a fan exchange of views of the regional landscape and agreed to elevate cooperations. I just want to know if a there was a mention of US-Philippines alliance or relations or the importance of the US in the region? 

And my second question sir, just a light, on the lighter note, has it been confirmed that Prime Minister Abe will share breakfast with President Duterte at his residence tomorrow in Davao? Thank you sir. 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: For the question on the US, the reference, the alliance of the US — today, in today’s meeting there’s no — they didn’t talk about such an issue and tomorrow, by tomorrowthey are expected to discuss the more international issues, including the regional ones.

I hope that I have a chance to come back to you for further details. 

Q: [off mic] 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA:  I cannot if it’s going to be a breakfast or rather format anyway.

Q: Sir Cedric Castillo from GMA 7. Sir, under a relatively new Duterte administration, what is now Japan’s role if any on the attempts to improve ties between the Philippines and the US, sir? If any. 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Sorry the first part of your question is now the Japan’s role to which…? 

Q:  if there is any — what is Japan’s role if any on the attempts to improve relations between US and Philippines? 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Well, if I recall they have first meeting, between Mr. Duterte and Minister Abe in Tokyo. Not first meeting sorry — the meeting in Tokyo last time. Japan had the option to explain how, what do we think about the value of the Japan and US relations so Japan and the American presence in Asia. 

Japan’s fundamental position regarding the Japan-US alliance is that it is the cornerstone of our foreign policy and security policy. And it [unclear] security and prosperity and stability in the region, the Asia Pacific region. And this question will see no change whoever becomes the next president. Although, Mr. Trump is going to be soon the President of the United States. 

So we’ll maintain this position and we’ll continue to look closely to the next US administration. So that the region, the Asia Pacific region will be secure and prosperous. 

Q: Just a follow-up sir. How does Japan view the seeming pivot to China of the Philippines sir?


Mr. Castillo: What is Japan’s take or what is Japan’s view on the pivot of the Philippines towards China? 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Well if the question is about the Filipino, China relationship. Basically, we should refrain from comment on the some country relations. So the briefing is here, is about today’s Summit Meeting so… 

Q: Hello sir. My name is Zen Hernandez from ABS-CBN. It’s a little bit related to that, I’m not sure if you know, if Prime Minister Abe or Japan is open to joining  multi-lateral talks with the Philippines and China with regards to South China Sea issues?

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: the security talks? 

Q: Multilateral talks with regards to the South China Sea issue. The territorial dispute. 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Those talks is about the ASEAN and ASEAN-led discussion on the issue of South China Sea. If I remember, If I recall the previous ASEAN-related meetings, they discussed this, you know, China, ASEAN will discuss the South China Sea issues.

Japan’s stand on the particular issue then was that if such a dialogue and consultation on the issues of South China Sea is conducted by the ASEAN and China. We expect that such a dialogue and consultation they carried out under the condition of the non-militarization of the region of the South China Sea, and the — 

And also, countries seek the peaceful resolution of the dispute. So under those two terms, Japan will expect such a talks should be conducted between the ASEAN and China, that’s what he said in the previous round of ASEAN Summit in Laos.

And just take the opportunity of this moment. When we studied the ODA for the Philippines, the answer is 1954, so this year is the 63rd year of the Japanese already. 

Q: I’m [unclear] from the Manila Shimbun. I’d like to ask you that this two leaders talks about their program of recalling remains of Japanese soldiers under the recovery [unclear] of Japanese Filipino today.

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Well to the best of knowledge, they didn’t discuss this issue. Can I get back to you later? After the whole meetings I’ll check and get back to you. Can I have your business card? 

Q: Yes. Thank you very much. 

Q: Sir, I’m Andreo Calonzo from Bloomberg. Sir the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan has already confirmed that Prime Minister Abe is visiting President Duterte’s home in Davao City. So what does this say of the relationship between the two leaders? And how often does the Prime Minister do this visit, personally visit the home of a fellow lead—? 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: It’s a good question, I cannot count the numbers in total because he visited so many countries sop far.

As for tomorrow’s visit to Davao, where Mr. Duterte is from, he is looking forward very much to visit the home town of Mr. Duterte. Well judging from the previous meeting in Tokyo, when Mr. Duterte came to visit. Mr. Duterte said, he said that Japan and the Philippines are not simply friends but we are more than that. We are more than brothers. So this represents how our two countries are close in terms of the [unclear] relations. This is an eloquent reflection of the existing confidence, trust to the Philippines. 

PRESIDENTIAL SPOKESPERSON ABELLA:  On that note, we’d like to thank you, Malacañang Press Corps, foreign correspondents. Thank you very much. 

PRESS SEC. KAWAMURA: Thank you very much.