His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
During the 13th ASEAN-Japan Summit
[October 29, 2010; Hanoi, Vietnam]
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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung,
Prime Minister Naoto Kan,
My colleagues in ASEAN,
It is my honor to be present in this 13th ASEAN-Japan Summit to exchange our views on various issues of common interest. I wish to welcome His Excellency, Prime Minister Naoto Kan, for coming to Ha Noi for your very first Summit with us. I myself am here for the first time. I am fully confident that His Excellency Prime Minister Kan will sustain Japan’s generous initiatives to promote ASEAN-Japan relations.
I also thank the Vietnamese Government and peoples for the excellent arrangements for our 13th Summit.
At the outset, let me express my admiration to Japan for its efforts to maintain peace in the region. There are many challenges to peace in our part of the world today, not the least of which are competing claims by different countries in the South China Sea. In the northern seas, tensions recently rose between two great powers, Japan and China, over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Allow me to commend Japan for choosing to avoid the path of confrontation on this issue. It would have been easier politically to take a tough stand and possibly escalate the situation, but Japan chose instead the path of peace. While some may say that this was a loss of face, I say this was an act of political maturity.
At my first ASEAN-Japan summit, I would also like to acknowledge the role that Japan has played in helping ASEAN countries develop their economies. Investments from Japanese companies can be seen throughout ASEAN and Japan has also been the largest provider of assistance to our country. I am confident that Japan will continue to support the region.
Japan has already contributed to ASEAN physical connectivity through the various infrastructure programs she has undertaken jointly with ASEAN members over the past years. I welcome Japan’s support programs and projects to implement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity contained in her paper “Initial Plan for Cooperation on ASEAN Connectivity.”
I invite Japanese companies to support Public-Private Partnerships for some of the projects she intends to support, which my Administration is employing in order to generate private sector support for our important national development projects.
The Philippines has proposed the inclusion in the Masterplan of policies and a legal framework on trade in services and investments particularly in the area of developing maritime, ICT, people-to-people, and energy connectivity. The Philippines, in particular, is interested in projects and programs concerning the development of an ASEAN Roll-on/Roll-off (RO-RO) Network, the enhancement of public ICT capacity and the establishment of new/expanded physical infrastructure for broadband development especially in under-served areas, not to mention updating the power grid and gas pipeline in ASEAN.
While I welcome Japan’s strong push for connectivity projects in the mainland areas of ASEAN, I also strongly encourage Japan to look into the different archipelagic challenges poised by the geography of the eastern regions of ASEAN, the Philippines in particular, and to consider appropriate connectivity projects to support this part of ASEAN.
In line with this, I understand that there remains a balance of US$107 million in the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF) funds this year, and I encourage our relevant sectoral bodies to avail themselves of this financial resource for worthwhile projects beneficial to both Japan and ASEAN.
Climate change will continue to affect all of us, and it is imperative that the ASEAN-Japan regional cooperation be used to protect our citizens in the face of the ever increasing destructive natural weather patterns. Disaster preparedness continues to be a key issue for us, given our past and recent experiences with natural disasters. The Philippines shall continue to lead ASEAN in addressing this matter as we are the current Chair of the ASEAN Committee for Disaster Management (ACDM). Through the ACDM, we seek to explore new funding from Japan and other dialogue partners to help support the activities contained in the Committee’s five-year program to implement the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Response.
I am confident that when our Senior Officials meet in November in Bali for the 26th ASEAN-Japan Forum, they will be able to discuss in greater detail our directives from this Summit, and find appropriate means to move our dialogue partnership further forward in the following year.