Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito officially takes up post

Robie de Guzman   •   May 1, 2019   •   1787

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito ascends throne in a solemn ceremony of abdication by his father, Akihito

Japan’s Emperor Naruhito formally invested on Wednesday (May 1) in a solemn ceremony which took place in the Imperial Palace in the heart of Tokyo after his father, Akihito, stepped down on the day before.

In his first speech, Naruhito said he said he would act according to the Constitution and fulfill his responsibility as the symbol of the state.

“In acceding to the Throne, I swear that I will reflect deeply on the course followed by His Majesty the Emperor Emeritus and bear in mind the path trodden by past emperors, and will devote myself to self-improvement,” Japanese Emperor Naruhito said.

“I also swear that I will act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them,” he added.

Akihito, the first Japanese monarch to abdicate in two centuries, became an active symbol of peace, reconciliation and democracy during his three-decade Heisei era. Many expect Naruhito to follow that model, but with his own style

“I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world,” Naruhito said.

While regarding the Emperor as the symbol of the state and Unity of the people, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his determination to create a bright yet peaceful and hopeful future for his country, amid the fast-changing international environment.

“We are determined to create, amidst the fast-changing international environment, a bright future for a Japan that is proud, that is peaceful and full of hope, and an era in which culture is born and will develop as people bring together their hearts in a beautiful way,” Abe said. (REUTERS)

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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