Breaking News

Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Thursday, October 18, 2018


Japan Deepens Economic Support for Philippines in Rivalry With China

Philippine President met Japanese Prime Minister

Share on Facebook November 3, 2017, Reporter : VoA/ BNN, Reader : 625


TAIPEI, TAIWAN - Japan is deepening its influence in the Philippines to vie with regional rival China, a welcome boost for an infrastructure overhaul program in the relatively poor Southeast Asian country and for Japanese geopolitical ambitions.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe earlier this week to discuss "concrete, time-bound and specific ways to further intensify bilateral cooperation," the presidential website in Manila said.

Duterte is playing Japan off China, which last year out-pledged other countries with an offer of $24 billion in aid and investment, analysts say. China and Japan, which have a legacy of two-way political disputes, are vying for economic inroads as well as military cooperation in much of Southeast Asia.

"He's playing one side off the other, and so he's come to 'why not?'" said Jeff Kingston, author and history instructor at Temple University Japan. "Japan is trying to draw on its old ties and 'we're a more reliable and trustworthy neighbor.'"

Duterte's second trip to Tokyo

Duterte, in office since June 2016, made his second official Tokyo visit Oct. 30-31. His meeting with Abe included discussions of economic issues. Abe pledged 1 trillion yen ($8.8 billion) in economic support, according to media reports from Tokyo this week, doubling the amount that Japan offered in January.

The aid is expected to help the Philippines build rapid transit, bridges and improvements to a container port in the country's third largest city, Cebu, said Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank, Metro Manila.

FILE - Motorists drive past a fallen marker that was toppled by Tropical Storm Jangmi at Alcantara township, Cebu province, central Philippines, Dec. 30, 2014.

"On top of our agenda is vital support for the centerpiece projects," Duterte said via the presidential office website, referring to a $167 billion, five-year program to overhaul public facilities as a way of fostering stronger economic growth.

Testing Chinese aid

The Philippines began accepting Chinese aid for infrastructure last year after the two sides agreed to set aside a maritime sovereignty dispute that had landed them in a world arbitration court under Duterte's predecessor.

Beijing hopes its economic help around Southeast Asia will ease opposition to its dominance in that dispute, which covers most of the South China Sea and involves six governments. Some Filipinos worry that acceptance of Chinese aid will lead to compromising Philippine maritime sovereignty claims.

For the past four years, China has separately advanced a "One Belt, One Road" policy that extends infrastructure aid across Asia to advance Sino-foreign trade relations.

What's in it for Japan

Japan is widely seen as competing with China for clout in the Philippines as well as other developing Asian countries.

Direct aid worldwide increased 12.7 percent last year over 2015 to $10.37 billion. The development aid also has a widening mandate, including "human security" and "sustainable development" based on individual country needs, the Japanese foreign ministry says on its website.

Japanese support for the Philippines tends to unfurl slowly compared to Chinese support, and often comes through private investment deals such as aquaculture in remote, undeveloped regions. Both countries offer concessionary loans.

"Foreign direct investment in the Philippines coming from Japan has been growing in the past six years, so I think closer cooperation between these countries is beneficial," Ravelas said.

China and Japan still face unresolved issues from World War II as well as a dispute over islets in the East China Sea.

The East China Sea issue, plus wariness about Beijing's grip on the South China Sea - a separate dispute not involving Japan - have prompted Tokyo to factor in freedom of navigation, rule of law and security when making aid calculations, University of Adelaide Asian studies professor Purnendra Jain wrote in a 2016 online commentary.

Japan, a staunch ally of Washington, also advocates a multicountry approach to development assistance.

"Duterte was in town at [the] Japanese invitation and I think they wanted to convince him," Kingston said.

FILE - Damaged buildings are seen inside a war-torn area in Marawi City, southern Philippines October 24, 2017, after the Philippines announced on Monday the end of five months of military operations in a southern city held by pro-Islamic State rebels.

8203;Japanese help for destroyed Philippine city

As part of Japan's emphasis on human security, Abe offered $2 million to help the Philippines rebuild Marawi, Philippine media reported this week. Marawi is a southern city that was demolished during five months of fighting this year between Philippine troops and Muslim rebels.

"In the past the focus has mostly been on infrastructure and grants, but now there's an effort to try to address human security issues like the roots of conflict, and terrorism," said Maria Ela Atienza, political science professor at University of the Philippines Diliman.


More Euro Asia news of the month

Photos Japan wants to construct world’s tallest wooden skyscraper

TOKYO, Japan - As the Japanese company, Sumitomo Forestry marks its 350th anniversary in the year 2041 - it is aiming to unveil its...

Photos Tochinoshin grabs sole lead as Kakuryu loses again

Tochinoshin snatched a one-match lead Thursday after yokozunaKakuryu suffered his second loss in as many days at the New Year Grand Sumo...

Photos For the first time in years, snow alert issued in Japan

TOKYO, Japan - For the first time in four years, Japan Weather Agency has issued a ‘Heavy Snow’ alert, warning that there...

Photos Japanese police recover more dead bodies from capsized boat

TOKYO, Japan - On Tuesday, the Japanese police recovered seven bodies from a wooden boat, with indications that the boat likely came...

Photos Panasonic develops two-passenger automatic driving vehicle

Fukui [Japan], December 8. (ANI): Japanese electronic giant Panasonic has developed a two-passenger compact vehicle equipped with its...

Photos Japan’s Toray admits to more cases of data falsification

TOKYO, Japan - In a damning admission, Japan’s Toray Industries on Tuesday revealed 149 cases of quality data falsification at a...

Photos North Korean fishermen mysteriously wash ashore in Japan

TOKYO, Japan - Japanese police said that they had arrested eight men from a boat that washed ashore the coast in Japan. The police...

Photos Ardent Pokémon Go fans catch 500 million Pokémon in two days

TOKYO, Japan - In a bid to reignite the global craze about the game that lets players go to lengths for region-locked pocket monsters,...

Photos US, S. Korea, Japan Warn Pyongyang to Stop Irresponsible Provocations

Senior defense officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan met to discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile threats....

Flying Reimagined

Stock Index

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Life Style

Photo Gallery