Palace: PHL, Japan leaders may discuss arbitration case vs China

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Friday, June 20, 2014


PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III may discuss with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the update of the Philippine arbitration case before an international tribunal regarding the territorial dispute with China when he visits Japan next week, an official said Friday.

The President will undertake a one-day working visit to Japan on Tuesday.

In a press briefing in Malacanang, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Charles Jose said the meeting between the two leaders is an opportunity for them to exchange views on several issues to develop stronger ties between their countries.

"These areas of cooperation include humanitarian assistance and disaster response, maritime cooperation, promotion of trade and investments, people-to-people exchanges and the Mindanao peace process," Jose told Palace reporters.

Asked if Aquino will discuss the South China Sea issue and the Philippine arbitration case during his meeting with Abe, he said, "We are preparing the President for whatever topics.

"And for us, with regard to the South China Sea, it is very important for the President to brief the Japanese side on the arbitration case that we filed against China. I’m sure the President will be updating the Prime Minister on the status of our case," he said.

Japan is also engaged in a territorial row with China over the East China Sea.

Aside from meeting Abe, the President will deliver the keynote address at the Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao Conference in Hiroshima, organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Research and Education for Peace of the University Sains Malaysia.

Jose said the President's attendance in the event in Hiroshima is important because it serves as a follow-up to government actions on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, which aims to achieve lasting peace in Mindanao.

On the President's scheduled meeting with Abe, Jose was asked if Japan and the Philippines are joining forces against China.

Jose said Japan is a very important friend and partner of the Philippines and the two countries have a very vibrant political, economic, and people-to-people exchanges.

"Japan is one of our only two strategic partners. And in terms of economic cooperation, Japan is our number one trading partner, largest source of ODA (official development assistance), third largest source of approved investments, and third largest source of tourists," he said.

Japan and the Philippines also have very active people-to-people exchanges, he said, noting the scholarships and trainings being offered by JICA to Filipinos.

The President's delegation will include Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda, Presidential Management Staff head Julia Abad, and Presidential peace adviser Teresita Deles. (SDR/Sunnex)

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