Japan, Philippines Agree to Boost Cooperation Amid ‘New Normal’ Post-COVID-19

MANILA/TOKYO – Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu and Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Thursday agreed to enhance collaboration amid the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic, and to foster with regional partners a unified approach to the post-COVID-19 “new normal.”

The two ministers discussed the importance of international cooperation in addressing the novel coronavirus in a phone call that lasted for about 20 minutes.

Motegi conveyed Japan’s gratitude for the Philippine government’s assistance for the repatriation of Japanese nationals from the country. He also requested for continued cooperation on Japanese nationals’ safe well-being and Japanese companies’ steady business operations in the Philippines.

Locsin, for his part, thanked the Japanese government’s support for the repatriation of Filipinos aboard the MV Diamond Princess and the Costa Atlantica.

According to the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Motegi explained to Locsin Japan’s assistance package for the Philippines in the wake of COVID-19, such as technical cooperation, the provision of medical supplies and Avigan tablets, and the Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan. He also conveyed his intention to accelerate dialogues, once the situation subsides, on various bilateral agenda, including quality infrastructure development, the Mindanao peace process, security and defense, and coordination on region-wide affairs such as the South China Sea issue.

MOFA said Locsin responded by expressing his willingness to further strengthen the Japan-Philippines relations.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said that Locsin and Motegi recognized the critical role of closer and coordinated regional efforts, including under the ASEAN-Japan and ASEAN Plus Three frameworks, in enabling the region to respond and weather future pandemics.

It added that the two ministers agreed on the importance of regional players prioritizing cooperation amid the crisis, and avoiding actions that raise regional tensions and breach of international law, as countries endeavor to overcome the pandemic and revitalize their economies.

The two ministers concluded their discussion by sharing their views toward the further enhancement of the bilateral relations between Japan and the Philippines, MOFA stated. - Florenda Corpuz

(File photo taken on January 9, 2020 at the Makati Shangri-La)

(Photo credit: DFA/Philip Adrian G. Fernandez)