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Japan PM tells Marcos he wants to strengthen economic ties with Philippines

UNITED NATIONS — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida met Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday and said he wants to strengthen cooperation in priority areas for the Filipino leader, such as agriculture, energy, health and infrastructure, a Japanese spokesperson said.

The leaders held a working lunch on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

"The two leaders concurred on continuing to convene the High-Level Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation in order to elevate the bilateral cooperation to a higher level," Japanese Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Hikariko Ono told reporters.

Kishida also said in the meeting that "the international community needs to oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China Sea, as well as economic coercion," the spokesperson said, in apparent reference to Chinese activity regularly criticized by Japan.

Japan said after Marcos was elected in May it wanted to continue cooperation in infrastructure development, including railways, the Subic Bay development, as well as in security and coast guard law enforcement.

Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that Marcos shared his administration’s priorities, specifically in the fields of agriculture and food security, energy security, infrastructure development, and cybersecurity.

She said Marcos and Kishida also "reaffirmed their commitment to reinforce ties and strengthen cooperation in response to the challenges and opportunities in the regional security and economic landscape."

Citing Marcos, Angeles said that 66 years since the normalization of the Philippines-Japan bilateral ties, both countries "have fostered one of the closest partnerships in the region." 

She also said Kishida expressed Japan’s commitment to supporting the Philippines’ goal to become an upper middle-income country by 2023.

At the 77th UNGA on Wednesday (PHL time), Marcos said the Philippines would be a "moderately prosperous country" by 2040. He also reiterated that the country remains on track to reach upper middle-income status next year.

“The two leaders expressed confidence that bilateral cooperation in the next years will lead to the further realization of the two countries’ common aspiration for regional peace and stability, and a better life for their peoples,” Angeles said. —with Giselle Ombay/Reuters/VBL, GMA News