URBANISSMO: An evening of GOLDEN friendship

urbanissmo by kenneth irving ong

The Consular Office of Japan in Davao recently celebrated the birthday of Japanese Emperor Akihito with a grand reception last December 14 at the SMX Convention Center.

The event was hosted by the new Ambassador of Japan to the Philippines, Mr. Koji Haneda, and was attended by the consular corps of Davao, members of the Davao City council, various Japanese business groups in Davao, and civic organisation heads.

In his welcome remarks, ambassador Haneda shared that he was no stranger to the Philippines as he was stationed in the country before. “It is like a home coming to me,” he revealed.

“Japan and Philippine relations have never been better. Building on past achievements and aiming for higher goals, I could not agree more when President Duterte recently stated in Tokyo that our two countries are entering a golden age of strategic partnership.” he said. “This year has been an eventful and significant one for Japan and Philippine relations.”

On Japan’s support to Davao and Mindanao’s growth Mr. Haneda said that Japan strongly supports the development of Mindanao including Davao City. “When Japan’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs visited Davao City last August, he emphasised our willingness to support the infrastructure of Davao and other regional Cities which includes the Davao City Bypass Construction Project, Davao City Infrastructure Development Plan and Capacity Building Project.”

“We view Mindanao as a very crucial area in the peace, security and development of the entire Philippines,” he added “Thus we remain strongly committed to support Mindanao under the Japan Bangsamoro Initiatives for Reconstruction Development or JBIRD Initiative.”

Ambassador Haneda also noted the enhanced people-to-people exchanges between the two countries in the past years through employment, education, cultural events and tourism with more than 300,000 Filipinos visiting Japan and 535,000 Japanese tourists coming to the Philippines and rising.

He also shared his meeting with City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio where they discussed ways to attract more tourist and investments to Davao. “We welcome the first tourism and investment roadshow held in Japan by the Davao city government held last October, This paved the way for enhanced linkages in investment, trade and tourism between Davao and Japanese cities like Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto and Osaka.”

“I am also delighted to know that Mayor Sara herself visited Japan last month and signed a memorandum of understanding for Green City-Sister City cooperation with Kitakyushu-shi. Under the MOU, the two cities have forged cooperation in the fields of resource cycling, capacity building and other endeavours to promote the green city development concept.”

“Indeed, these exchanges we have at various levels and fields demonstrate that the relationship we have only gets better with time,” noted Ambassador Haneda.

His speech ended with a celebratory toast to the good health of the Emperor of Japan and to President Rodrigo Duterte.