Future-oriented RP-Japan relations seen after apologies of WW II PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 29 October 2010 14:35

In an oft-repeated refrain that in August this year took on a new dimension when Prime Minister Naoto Kan skipped a traditional visit to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, Japan’s ambassador to the Philippines, Makoto Katsura, has expressed recently ”heartfelt apologies and a deep sense of remorse” over Japan’s World War II atrocities in Asia and the Philippines.

Katsura made the remarks at the Palo town in Leyte province, site of the MacArthur Landing Memorial National Park, at the 66th anniversary of the Leyte Gulf Landings on October 20.

The event was organized by Leyte Gov. Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, with diplomats from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States and Defense Undersecretary Samuel B. Bagasin.

At the anniversary of Japan’s surrender last August, Kan let go of a long-honored tradition by Japanese prime ministers wherein homage is paid to Japanese WWII imperial soldiers at the revered Yasukuni Shrine.

Instead, he spoke at the Budokan Hall, near the Imperial Palace, of the Imperial Army’s atrocities in Asia and apologized for the government as Emperor Akihito, son of the wartime emperor Hirohito, listened.

Katsura echoed what Kan said in Tokyo: During WW II, Japan inflicted untold suffering and damages to many nations and people in Asia. And now it promises not to be a warmonger and partner with the world for peace and development.

The Japanese envoy reassured that post-WW II Japan has been reborn and that it “will continue helping in nation-building efforts of the Philippines, as a strategic partner.”

With a “future-oriented attitude” about its relationship with the Philippines, Katsura said Japan will continue to support the peace process in Mindanao, help the country to reduce poverty and expand cooperation in trade and investments.

Philippine-Japan partnership will also be brought to a higher level through the two-year old Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement or JPEPA, he said.

Japan’s foreign direct investments in the Philippines in 2009 was 58.1 percent, or P70.7 million of the total P121.8 million. This has been a major jump from just 8.8 percent of P16.1 million in 2008.

Tokyo’s contribution to economic assistance received by the Philippines is 36 percent in loans and 333.1 percent, or USD302.5 million dollars in official development assistance (ODA) —the biggest when compared to the U.S., Australia and multilateral agencies.

Of the USD43 billion total imports in 2009, those from Japan was P5.35 billion or 12.5 percent, also the biggest.

In terms of Philippine exports with a total of USD38.33 billion, Japan ranked second to the U.S. as a market at 16.2 percent of USD6.20 billion.