Locsin, new Japanese foreign minister reaffirm commitment to enhance PH-Japan strategic ties
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and new Japanese Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan during a phone call on December 8.
The two ministers discussed key areas of PH-Japan bilateral cooperation, including on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mindanao peace process, and maritime security and safety.
Locsin conveyed appreciation for Japan’s vaccine donation, emergency grant assistance, crisis response support program, and loan packages that contributed greatly to the Philippines’ COVID-19 response and recovery efforts.
Japan provided the Philippines with more than three million doses of Japan-manufactured AstraZeneca vaccines in support of the country’s vaccination program. In 2020, Japan was the Philippines’ top source of development assistance.
On maritime issues, Hayashi expressed his strong opposition to unilateral attempts to change by force the status quo in the East and South China Seas.
Locsin said that the Philippines values Japan’s statements of support for the Arbitral Award and for an international law-based order in the SCS, adding that such formal demonstrations of support send a message of respect for outcomes of diplomatic and legal processes, as well as strengthen the legal order over the seas.
Locsin echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement at the 13th ASEM Summit Retreat that, “there can be no other acceptable basis for a just maritime order but the law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS. All countries – big and small – must adhere to the rule of law faithfully and consistently. Otherwise, there will be chaos.”
The two ministers also exchanged views on various regional and multilateral issues such as developments in Myanmar, the issue on North Korea including support for measures to address the abduction of Japanese nationals, and the two countries’ commitment to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Locsin recalled that he was actually the first to raise the abduction issue in the United Nations. He reiterated PH support and cooperation on this issue.
Advancing concrete cooperation to realize a Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and on the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) was likewise discussed. The ministers also agreed to cooperate on the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation in 2023.
Following the consensus reached by President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio last month, Locsin and Hayashi agreed to promote the early launch of the Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting (2+2) for a deeper security engagement and coordination between the two countries.
The phone call provided an opportunity for the two ministers to renew the Philippines’ and Japan’s commitment to a wider and deeper partnership at the close of 2021, which marks the 65th anniversary of normalization of diplomatic relations and the 10th anniversary of the two countries’ strategic partnership.
They agreed to see each other again in Liverpool, UK, where both will attend meetings with the G-7 Foreign Ministers. OPCD-Media and Public Affairs Division