27 January 2016
President Benigno S. Aquino III held a welcome ceremony for Their Majesties Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan on the second day of their State Visit to the Philippines.
According to reports by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan and the Philippines share basic values such as freedom and democracy, and have nurtured close economic relations. Japan is the Philippines’ largest trading partner and the largest source of investment with a total of P35.7 billion as of 2014.
The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement was also forged in December 2008, resulting to a large number of products being traded between the two countries without tariff.
In terms of people-to-people exchanges and tourism, there is a 6.9% increase or 464,000 individuals from the 2013-2014 statistics of Japanese tourists visiting the Philippines, while there are around 184,000 Filipino tourist arrivals in Japan in 2014.
The Government of the Philippines has a long extended state invitation for Their Majesties, and this was renewed upon President Aquino’s State Visit in Japan on June 2015. On the occasion of the latter’s state visit, the two nations agreed upon the “Roadmap for Transport Infrastructure Development for Metro Manila and Its Surrounding Areas”, which is indicative of Japan’s commitment to support infrastructure development in Metro Manila through projects such as the “North-South Commuter Rail Project (Malolos-Tutuban)”.
Also on the President’s State Visit last year, Japan has upgraded the “Japan-Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction and Development” (J-BIRD) to J-BIRD 2, focusing more in ensuring autonomy in the Bangsamoro area and putting more emphasis in Japan’s contributions to the Mindanao peace process.