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World | National

Japan, PH close ranks on sea rows; Abe pledges 69-B yen in loans to typhoon-hit neighbor

President Aquino and Premier Abe stand together in a ceremony at the South Meeting Room of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo on Friday. The two leaders witnessed Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida sign the Exchange of Notes on a Post Disaster Stand-by Loan, the Yen Loan Project, Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for the Philippine Coast Guard and the New Schedule for the Philippine-Japan Air Services Agreement, at the sidelines of the ASEAN-Japan Commemorative Summit. (PLDT powered by SMART) (Ryan Lim /Malacañang Photo Bureau)
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TOKYO – Their countries may have been at war over 70 years ago, but on Friday Japan and the Philippines affirmed their commitment to help each other deal with an increasingly assertive Chinese neighbour, sealing this with Tokyo helping Manila acquire 10 Coast Guard patrol ships.

President Benigno Aquino III and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meeting at the latter’s official residence, also shared concerns about the freedom of flight in international space, in an apparent reference to Beijing's newly declared air defense identification zone in the East China Sea covering the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.

"We reiterated our commitment to following the rule of law to promote the peaceful settlement of disputes and to ensuring the freedom of flight in international airspace," Mr. Aquino said.

Prime Minister Abe on Friday pledged a total of about 69 billion yen in loans to the Philippines to rehabilitate typhoon-hit areas and boost the country's maritime security.

In a joint press conference after his meeting with Aquino, Abe also announced additional grant aid worth 6.5 billion yen.

Of the yen loans, post-disaster standby loans amount to 50 billion yen and the remainder is for providing the country with 10 coast guard patrol ships.

The Philippines and some members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are locked in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea.

When Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck the Philippines last month, Japan sent a disaster relief team, including one of the largest-ever rescue groups of Self-Defense Force troops, to the country.

Japan engaged in the disaster relief activities "because of special relations between Japan and the Philippines as strategic partners and because of Japanese people's wish to reciprocate the warm assistance from the Philippines following the Japanese earthquake (in 2011)," Abe said.

The two met on the sidelines of a Japan-ASEAN summit in Tokyo.

At the meeting, the two leaders discussed cooperation on disaster management and reconstruction in the wake of super typhoon Yolanda, economic concerns, maritime cooperation, people-to-people exchanges and the Mindanao peace process. The two leaders also exchanged views on regional issues of mutual concern. In 2012, Japan was the Philippines’ number one trade partner and provider of official development assistance as well as the second major source of approved investments and third source of tourist arrivals.

Y1 million from Filipinos in Japan for typhoon victims

President Aquino earlier received Y1 million ( P426,007) in donations for the victims of Super Typhoon Yolanda while meeting with the Filipino community here Thursday.

The symbolic check was handed over by Ms. Jenavila Shigemizu, Chairperson of the Philippine Barrio Fiesta Executive Committee and Ms. Olive Akatsu to the President at the FilCom event at the National Olympics Memorial Youth Center, said a Palace announcement.

According to Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez, the Y1 million was a profit from the Philippine Barrio Fiesta Festival in Yokohama held last September which attracted more than 100,000 visitors.

In addition to their donation, Lopez said the collections during the mass for the traditional Simbang Gabi at Meguro Catholic Church, which will be organized by the Philippine embassy here with the support of the Filipino Community organizations, will also be donated to the Yolanda victims through the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

Super typhoon Yolanda caused massive destruction to some parts of the Visayas and Southern Luzon last November 8, leaving behind over 6,000 dead and more than P35-billion in damage.

President Aquino was joined by Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo, Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya, Presidential Management Staff Chief Secretary Julia Abad and Press Secretary Herminio Coloma during the FilCom event.

It was the first event of President Aquino upon his arrival here Thursday afternoon to participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-Japan Commemorative Summit. 

PNoy wishes Miss International bet good luck

Also in Tokyo, President Aquino wished Bb. Pilipinas International Bea Rose Santiago good luck as she is slated to compete in the Miss International beauty pageant to be held in the city on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old Filipina beauty was one of the special guests during President Aquino’s meeting with the Filipino community Thursday afternoon.

“Iyong atin pong contestant sa Miss International, we really wish you good luck and hopefully I will have the same experience that I had in Bali, Indonesia --- dahil marami ho doon nagsasabi ‘Oh! Philippines! Miss World!’,” the President said referring to the historic win of TV personality Megan Young as the first-ever Filipino crowned as Miss World.

He is optimistic that the morena stunner from Masbate, Bicol would be able to bring home the crown. If she does, that would make her the fifth Filipina Miss International.

Miss International 2013 will take place at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel Hall here on December 17. The reigning Miss International is Ikumi Yoshimatsu of Japan.

The last time the Philippines won Miss International title was in 2005 when the country was represented by Precious Laga Quigaman.