The relationship between the Philippines and Japan as well as other countries in the region is expected to become even stronger with less participation of the United States , a former diplomat said on Friday.
In a symposium on Philippines-Japan Friendship: Thoughts on 60 Years and Beyond held at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Wilfrido Villacorta former deputy-secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said there could be further improvements, particularly on the economic field, "not only between the Philippines and Japan but also of Japan and the immediate neighbors."
With the recent events, particularly on whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will survive, he said "what is viable now is the cooperation" of the 10-member countries of the ASEAN as well as with that of Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and India.
TPP is a US-led economic grouping that outgoing US President Barack Obama has been pushing. US President-elect Donald Trump wants to abandon the TPP.
Despite territorial dispute between Japan and China , Villacorta expressed belief there will be better relations between the two countries.
Villacorta, also professor emeritus of the De La Salle University, expressed support on President Rodrigo Duterte's independent foreign policy, which includes distancing the country from the US .
He said Duterte knows "diplomacy," citing his friendly policy towards China despite the territorial dispute in the South China Sea .
Historian Reynaldo Ileto, winner of the Academic Prize 2003 at the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes, said while there seems to have competition between Japan and China over attracting the Philippines , there should be closer relationship among them because they are "part of the same constellation."
Duterte recently embarked on trips to China and Japan wherein both countries offered huge assistance to the Philippines .
Another historian, Ambeth Ocampo said relations between the Philippines and Japan are "quite warm," particularly in terms of culture.
He cited the fondness of the Filipinos on Japanese anime, and the "explosion" of the Japanese restaurants in the Philippines .
"We're slowly becoming Japanized," Ocampo said, citing " Japan has become a new Hong Kong" for the Filipinos following Tokyo 's relaxation of tourist visa.
Ocampo is winner of the 2016 Academic Prize at the Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes.
Yoshiko Nagano from Kanagawa University cited the strong human relations of the two countries.
She underscored the importance of continuity of previous researches to further strengthen the two nations' ties.
Kidlat Tahimik, winner of the 2012 Fukuoka Academic Prize and a film maker, said the "cultural side has a lot to do" in the strong relationship of the Philippines and Japan . Celerina Monte/DMS