THE House of Representatives and the Senate on Saturday held a Special Joint Session to hear the message of His Excellency, Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister (PM) of Japan.
“The relationship between Japan and the Philippines has made great strides over the past half century,” PM Kishida noted. Before the assembled members of Congress, he promised to do his utmost “to ensure that the strong friendship between Japan and the Philippines will last and further develop in the future.”
PM Kishida noted that Japan-Philippines relations have gone beyond “golden,” recalling how 2016 marked the 60th anniversary of the normalization of the two countries’ diplomatic relations, when their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan visited the Philippines. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., together with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, visited Japan in February this year.
PM Kishida also reported providing the Philippine Coast Guard with 12 ships to help improve the Philippines’ maritime security capability. He also mentioned that Japan has agreed to also provide the Philippine Navy with coastal surveillance radars, among others. The assistance is part of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Plan” (FOIP), which extends efforts for security and safe use of the sea to the air. He also mentioned the trilateral cooperation of Japan, the US and the Philippines to protect the freedom of the sea. The Japan Self-Defense Forces also participated in the joint US-Philippines exercises held last month.
In his well-applauded speech, PM Kishida considered the Philippines, with the second largest population among ASEAN countries and more than 300,000 citizens living in Japan, as an irreplaceable partner of Japan. “I am honored to have the opportunity to be the first Japanese Prime Minister to speak here at the Congress of the Philippines, which has a long tradition,” he said.
Prior to adjournment of the Special Joint Session, Speaker Romualdez conveyed the House Members’ sincere and heartfelt appreciation to PM Kishida with reverence and hope for Japan and the Philippines’ shared future. “Today’s discourse fortifies the bridge between our great nations, Maraming Salamat at Mabuhay tayong lahat,” Speaker Romualdez said. Senate President Zubiri extended the senators’ deepest gratitude to PM Kishida for his gracious acceptance of their invitation to address a Special Joint Session of Congress. “Illuminating the path towards an even more robust and dynamic relationship between our two nations, one that is grounded in the common pursuit of peace and progress within our countries and throughout the region. Long live Philippine-Japan Friendship and Partnership,” he said.
PM Kishida’s address before Congress in Special Joint Session formed part of his three-day state visit to the Philippines.