His Excellency Kishida Fumio, Prime Minister of Japan; Madame Kishida Yuko, who will join us later; esteemed ministers and officials of both the Philippines and of Japan; distinguished guests and fellow government workers; members of the media; ladies and gentlemen, good evening.
It is my distinct pleasure and honor to welcome His Excellency Kishida Fumio, the Prime Minister of Japan, today here at Malacañan Palace. His visit marks another important milestone in the Strategic Partnership between our two countries. It is a testament to the strong commitment of both countries to further strengthen our bilateral relations.
We are honored [that] Prime Minister Kishida [paid] a return official visit to the Philippines. We had a very productive and insightful discussion that covered many important aspects of our bilateral relations and how we can further work together to reach our full potential.
Our talks have been wide ranging covering political, security, defense, trade and investment, development, and people-to-people ties.
These wide ranging discussions are manifestation of how robust our bilateral relations have become in the last 67 years. Our official engagements with Japan have expanded in the past decades to include cooperation between and among our coast guards as well as our armed forces.
We have gone beyond traditional exchanges and interactions, with Japan participating in several humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) exercises in the Philippines.
Today, key agreements have been signed that will propel the momentum of our bilateral relations in the next coming years, building on the Joint Statement issued on 9 February 2023 following my official visit to Japan.
Counting on our active framework of defense and security cooperation, there was an Exchange of Notes on the Official Security Assistance (OSA) from Japan to the Government of the Republic of the Philippines. This OSA will further enhance the military capacities of our countries, including the Philippines, which shares common security concerns with Japan.
The OSA grant worth JPY 600 million or around PHP 235 million will help boost the efforts of our Department of National Defense (DND) [by] securing coastal radars for our armed forces to enhance [their] maritime domain awareness capability and maritime security.
I also would like to recall our commitment to work on a framework for our status of visiting forces or the proposed Reciprocal Access Agreement, RAA, with Japan. We are cognizant of the benefits of having this arrangement, both to our defense and military personnel and to maintaining peace and stability in our region.
We have also signed the Exchange of Notes on the Non-Project Grant Aid (NPGA) for the Acquisition of Construction Equipment for Road Network Improvement / Implementation and Disaster Quick Response Operation in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region [in] Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). This grant, which is worth JPY 957 million or USD 6 million, will significantly contribute to mitigating the impact of flooding aggravated by climate change in the Bangsamoro region.
To mutually support the promotion of sustainable development of the mining and mineral resources sectors of the Philippines and Japan, we have signed the Memorandum of Cooperation on Mining Sector between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry of Japan.
In the field of tourism between our two countries, we have concluded and signed the Memorandum of Cooperation in the Field of Tourism between Department of Tourism of the Republic of the Philippines and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.
As leaders of like-minded states, we affirm our commitment to peaceful negotiations to resolve maritime conflicts, and the need for a stable and secure environment, for mutually inclusive growth and development for our peoples.
We must note with appreciation Japan’s commitment to the Philippines, which is manifested by its dynamic support of the Philippines’ efforts to attain Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) status by 2025 in line with our Philippine Development Plan for 2023-2028.
The Japan-funded Metro Manila Subway Project, and the development of the North-South Commuter Railway and its extension will secure a reliable, safe, and efficient mass transportation system for the entire country.
Once again, we extend our heartfelt thanks to the Prime Minister and his delegation for his fruitful and meaningful visit.
Thank you very much. [applause]
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