Influential ex-prime minister of Japan dies at the age of 101

Robie de Guzman   •   November 29, 2019   •   164

(FILE) – Japanese former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone speaks during a press conference for the 22th Praemium Imperiale award in Tokyo, Japan, 13 October 2010 (reissued 29 November 2019). Japan’s NHK television reported on 29 November that Yasuhiro Nakasone died aged 101. He served as Japan’s prime minister from 1982 to 1987. EPA-EFE/FRANCK ROBICHON

Tokyo – Former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, considered one of the most influential post-war leaders in the country, died on Friday at the age of 101, public broadcaster NHK reported.

The conservative politicians ruled Japan between 1982 and 1987, and during his tenure established closer defense ties with the United States and strengthened Japan’s position as one of the biggest economic powers worldwide.

Nakasone, who had participated in World War II as an officer of the Imperial Japanese Navy, died in the early hours of Friday at a Tokyo hospital, sources close to the family told media.

Known internationally for his proximity to former US president Ronald Reagan, the Japanese leader was one of the most respected political figures during the last few decades of the 20th century.

During his term, Nakasone focused on strengthening national defense capabilities of Japan through a bilateral agreement with the US and backed a reform of the pacifist article of the Japanese constitution which limits powers of the self-defense force (military).

His stand led to fierce attacks from the opposition, which considered him a proponent of returning to the nationalist and militarist policies which pushed Japan into World War II.

In 1985, Nakasone provoked a diplomatic crisis with China by marking the 40th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in WW II by visiting the Yasukuni war shrine, which honors Japanese war casualties from the period between late 19th century and 1945, including 14 politicians and officers of the Imperial Army who were convicted as Class A war criminals by an international court after the end of the war.

The leader, who hailed from the central Gunma prefecture, also caused controversies by repeatedly making comments boasting of the superiority of the Japanese “race” and culture, and backing education policies that inculcate patriotism among Japanese students.

In the economic sphere, Nakasone spearheaded some of the largest privatization projects in the history of the country, including that of Japan National Railways, which was divided into seven private-sector regional operators.

Nakasone set a benchmark for the current generation of conservative Japanese politicians in power, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has also set the goals of extending military capabilities and amending the constitution to dilute its pacifist thrust as some of his top priorities.

The father of the current prime minister, Shintaro Abe, served as the minister of foreign affairs under Nakasone during his tenure.

Nakasone was forced to resign in 1987 after failing to get support for introducing a value added tax in an attempt to reduce public debt, and retired from politics in 2003, after a career spanning more than 50 years as a member of the parliament. EFE-EPA

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PH, Japan meet tackle closer cooperation on key infrastructure projects

Robie de Guzman   •   December 10, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan both agreed to strengthen the strategic partnership between the two countries in implementing key infrastructure projects under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a statement, the Department of Finance (DOF) said that during the high-level meeting held in Hakone last Dec. 6, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and Japan’s Hiroto Izumi, special advisor to Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, discussed Japan’s continued assistance for the Philippines’ infrastructure projects.

The two sides also expressed readiness to sign the JPY4.409 billion supplemental loan agreement for the Metro Manila Priority Seismic Bridge Improvement Project in the coming months.

During the meeting, the two officials signed the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) signifying the latter’s commitment to provide technical support to the Duterte administration’s formulation of a regional development master plan designed to maximize the economic potentials of the Subic Bay and its surrounding areas.

In November, the DOF said that Japan have committed to support the masterplan which includes the development of possible projects that will help boost economy in the Subic Bay area.

Japan also committed to extend additional technical assistance that are critical to the Philippines’ campaign to bridge the infrastructure financing gap.

Both sides likewise confirmed to work towards the signing of the exchange of notes and the loan agreement for a supplemental loan to finance the ongoing Davao City Bypass Construction Project (DCBCP).

The two countries also committed to speed up the formulation of the Central Mindanao Highway Project (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybalay Section), as a candidate for Japanese official development assistance (ODA).

In addition, the DOF said that Japanese officials have expressed their intention to conduct pre-feasibility studies for four of the Philippines’ priority projects: the Cebu Circumferential Road, Second San Juanico Bridge and Access Road, Central Mindanao Highway (Cagayan de Oro-Malaybay Section), and Agusan del Norte-Butuan City Logistical Highway (4th Butuan Bridge.)

Japan also reiterated its intention to provide a loan for the Cebu-Mactan Bridge and Coastal Road Construction Project, as well as additional technical assistance to the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Most Affected Areas (MAA) in Marawi City.

The two sides also discussed other loan financing arrangements for the Philippines as it transitions to Upper Middle-Income Country (UMIC) status ahead of schedule in 2020.

PH, Japan infrastructure meet set in Hakone on Dec. 6

Robie de Guzman   •   December 5, 2019

(FILE) From left to right: Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Dr. Hiroto Izumi (Courtesy: Philippine Embassy to Tokyo website)

MANILA, Philippines – Economic officials from the Philippines and Japan are set to meet on Dec. 6, Friday to discuss the progress of the Duterte administration’s big-ticket infrastructure projects being financed by Tokyo.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, and Economic and Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia will lead the Philippine delegation, while Dr. Hiroto Izumi will head the Japanese team in the next high-level meeting set in Hakone town in eastern Japan.

The Department of Finance (DOF) said in a statement the meeting of the Philippines-Japan Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation will be the ninth such dialogue between the two countries.

The first meeting was convened in March 2017 at Kantei, the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, Japan, while the most recent was held at a hotel in Clark, Pampanga.

Dominguez said the regular meetings held between the two countries is part of the “fast and sure” approach adopted by the two countries to ensure the smooth and swift implementation of the Japan-funded projects under President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure modernization program.

“A clear demonstration of this ‘fast and sure’ approach was the signing of 10 loan agreements between Manila and Tokyo since President Duterte assumed office in June 2016,” he added.

These loan agreements include Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard (Phase II), Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST); Cavite Industrial Area Flood Risk Management Project; Arterial Road Bypass Project (Phase III) in Bulacan; New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project (II); Metro Rail Transit Line 3 Rehabilitation Project; Pasig-Marikina River Channel Improvement Project (Phase IV); North-South Commuter Railway Extension Project or NSCREP (1st tranche of loan); Metro Manila Subway Project or MMSP (Phase I), which is the single biggest venture under the “Build, Build, Build” program; and Road Network Development Project in Conflict-Affected Areas in Mindanao.

The finance chief noted that several of these agreements involving infrastructure projects were each processed and approved in a short span of 3 to 4 months.The DOF also said that as of December 2018, Japan is still the top provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans and grants totaling US$8.26 billion or 46 percent share of the Philippines’ total ODA loan portfolio.

PNR extends line to Los Baños with additional trains from Japan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 5, 2019

The Philippines National Railways (PNR) officially extended its operations to Los Baños, Laguna on December 1 with the addition of new stations and train sets from Japan.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOTr), the five new flag stop stations past the Calamba station are Pansol, Masili, Los Baños, College, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).

The fare from Tutuban to Los Baños (IRRI) is P150.

Passengers will also experience reclining and rotating seats, stowable tables, leg rests, and a comfort room inside the Kogane train set from Japan. The DOTr said the Kogane train consists of three coaches and can accommodate 81 passengers.

Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade commended the efforts of the PNR for modernizing its train sets.

Umpisa pa lamang po ito, dahil marami pa pong ihahandog ang PNR na makakaabot ang riles sa iba’t ibang parte ng bansa (This is just the beginning because the PNR still has a lot to offer in order for its services to reach other parts of the country),” he said in a statement.

Apart from the Kogane train, two new train sets from Indonesia will arrive next week. The PNR ordered a total of 37 rail cars from Indonesia, 31 of these coaches are set to be delivered from December 2019 to February 2020.—AAC

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