The Japan International Cooperation Agency is seeking to deepen cooperation and partnership with the Association of South East Asian Nations including the Philippines, which it acknowledged as "showcase models of the solid development cooperation."
“Our bilateral ties are not purely economic, rather they are founded on friendship and shared aspirations for generations,” said JICA Chief Representative Susumu Ito in a statement.
JICA noted that the Philippines, along with other ASEAN members like Indonesia and Vietnam, were among the first recipients of Japan’s assistance to Southeast Asia since the 1960s.
Data from JICA showed that as of 2015, Japan’s official development assistance to ASEAN totalled 16 trillion yen ($144 billion).
Ito said JICA’s development cooperation in Northern Luzon is among the agency’s commitment to support the region’s connectivity and economic growth.
In the aftermath of the Baguio earthquake in 1990, JICA extended road disaster prevention measures against landslides and falling rocks in its transport infrastructure projects in North Luzon, including the Naguilian Road and Rosario-Pugo-Baguio Road (popularly known as Marcos Highway).
Through JICA’s assistance, said road was now the preferred access road to Baguio.
“As the world becomes more globalized and ASEAN as a region becomes more integrated, we’re optimistic that opportunities abound for all of us,” added Ito.
To date, JICA has actively supported human resource development in the region, with about 192,668 trainees from ASEAN accepted in Japan as of March 2016.
Likewise, nearly 65,000 Japanese experts have been dispatched in the region to share Japan’s know-how and expertise in various development sectors.
“As one community, it goes without saying that we will need each other more to maximize and reap the benefits of cooperation and integration,” Ito said.
Meanwhile, JICA launched an exhibit on its cooperation with ASEAN and the Philippines at Tanabata Festival in Baguio City this week, as the country hosts ASEAN’s 50th founding anniversary this year.
It is an annual festival in Baguio patterned after Japan’s community festival in Miyagi Prefecture and also marks Japan-Philippines friendship and diplomatic relations.