PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino III will witness the signing of the contract on the turnover of 10 patrol boats to the Philippine Coast Guard during his state visit in Japan, Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez has said.

The tie-up is between the Japan Marine United Corp. and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), under the latter’s Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project (MSCIP) for the Philippine Coast Guard.

In an interview with Radio TV Malacañang (RTVM) Sunday, Lopez said the 10 patrol boats, to be used for monitoring the country's coastlines and for disaster response and relief, will be turned over by Japan to the Philippines through an Official Development Assistance (ODA) facility.

He also said the President will meet with several Japanese business executives, including the chief of the Fast Retailing Co. Ltd (Uniqlo).

Aquino will encourage Uniqlo, a popular apparel brand in the Philippines and in Asia, to produce its merchandise in the Philippines, Lopez said.

"Hopefully, it would lead to that discussion on expanding, not only in terms of opening more stores but also in terms of doing the actual manufacturing in the Philippines, where it will create thousands of new jobs," he said.

During his state visit, Aquino will also receive Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda in a courtesy call.

Kuroda, the former president of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), is expected to brief the President on the state of the Japanese economy.

The President is likewise scheduled to attend and address the Nikkei 21st International Conference on the Future of Asia, a prestigious business forum organized by Nikkei, the most influential media company in Japan.

Lopez said Aquino will update some 700 to 800 Japanese business executives who are expected to attend the forum, on the Philippine economy and invite Japanese companies, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to relocate their factories to the Philippines.

The President will also meet with officials of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as well as the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO). (SDR/Sunnex)