Japan vows sustained support for infra projects
BY TIZIANA CELINE PIATOS
The Manila Times
THE Department of Finance (DoF) said on Friday that Japan has pledged to support the major infrastructure projects of the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. The DoF made the announcement after the courtesy call between the Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhiko Koshikawa and Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno earlier this week. “The ambassador reiterated Japan’s continued support for the Philippines’ massive infrastructure program, the development of Subic Bay and Mindanao, and other sectoral cooperation in health, energy, agriculture and ICT (information and communication technology), among other areas,” said Diokno in a statement. Diokno attributed the success of the collaboration between the Philippines and Japan on infrastructure development to their joint efforts in holding frequent high-level meetings. Japan provided the Philippines with JPY (Japanese yen) 1.38 trillion in financial aid under the Duterte administration, exceeding the JPY 1-trillion pledged by Shinzo Abe, the country’s former prime minister, in 2017. As of December 2021, Japan was the largest donor of official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippines. The pledged loans and grants reached $10.2 billion, or 31.8 percent of the country’s total ODA portfolio. The Japanese government is grateful for the Build, Build, Build program’s continuation under the Marcos administration, Koshikawa pointed out. According to the Medium-Term Fiscal Framework for the current administration, the government wants to keep infrastructure investment at 5 to 6 percent of gross domestic product per year. The Metro Manila Subway Project, North-South Commuter Railway Project, Rehabilitation of Metro Rail Transit Line 3, Dalton Pass East Alignment Alternative Road Project, Central Mindanao Highway Project (Cagayan de OroMalaybalay Section) and Parañque Spillway are just a few of the highprofile infrastructure initiatives that the Japanese government is currently supporting. The development of the Subic Bay Masterplan and the Smart City efforts in New Clark City are both supported by Japan. The Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation’s HighLevel Meeting has developed into a powerful coordination tool that has accelerated Japanese aid in line with the “Fast and Sure” strategy. Diokno said the Philippines is ready to keep using this platform to advance the completion of more projects. In addition to infrastructure development, Koshikawa stated that Japan is eager to expand collaboration in several areas including marine security, regional development, particularly in Mindanao, energy, health, agriculture, space development, and disaster response and management.