Regional security matters, including the South China Sea (SCS) territorial disputes, and business opportunities are among the issues that will be discussed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and other participating leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean)-Japan Summit in Tokyo.
However, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the pending Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between Philippines and Japan is unlikely to be signed at the event commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Asean-Japan relations from December 16 to 18.
In a press briefing in Malacañang last Monday, DFA Assistant Secretary Daniel R. Espiritu said a Joint Vision Statement of Asean and Japan and the plan for its implementation will be issued during the summit.
“The joint statement covers the inter-gamut of relations between Asean and Japan. What we call the three pillars of Asean, are political-security matters, which include defense issues, and transnational crimes, but also economic issues, trade and investment,
socio-cultural issues, people-to-people exchange issues, climate change, and again, etcetera,” Espiritu said.
The exact details of the statement are still being negotiated in Jakarta, Indonesia, according to the DFA official.
When asked if Marcos will be raising the recent aggression by China in the country’s territory in the SCS, which resulted in damages to some Philippine sea vessels during the weekend, Espiritu said the matter may be discussed “within the Asean context” during the summit proper on December 17.
Other issues to be tackled in the summit are trade and investment, supply chain, connectivity and infrastructure, climate change, and food and energy security.
On the matter of the RAA, which will allow the country to hold joint military exercises with Japan, Espiritu said the negotiations for the accord is being done bilaterally.
He noted the accord is unlikely to be finalized during the President’s upcoming bilateral talks with Kishida. “An RAA will require a long time to make, so I don’t think it could be done in just one sitting,” the DFA official said.
The DFA stressed the importance of the President’s participation in the Summit since the country is one of the top beneficiaries of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), particularly its youth and people-to-people exchange programs.
“We have a stronger relation with Japan than many, if not all, of the members of Asean. And this is even becoming more intensified in the last few years because of common security and economic concerns,” Espiritu said.
“At the same time, we were able to maintain the high-level of people-to-people and social cultural exchange between us,” he added.
Aside from the Asean-Japan Summit, Marcos will also attend the Asia Zero Emission Community while he is in Tokyo.
During the event, the President will try to rally international support for the country’s bid to host the board of the Loss and Damage Fund board, which was approved at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28).
The chief executive will also once again meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who visited the country last month, and have an audience with the Japanese Emperor and Empress.
Before concluding his trip in Tokyo, he will have a roundtable meeting with business leaders organized by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on December 18 to get updates on the pledges and agreements, which were signed during his first presidential trip in Japan last February.
The President will have at least two business meetings at the sidelines of the summit. Some of the business agreements, which may be signed in the event, Espiritu said, are on the creative economy sector and information technology.