President Noy’s State Visit to Japan

It was definitely a privilege to have been invited to join the select business delegation of Pres. Noy Aquino’s recent State Visit to Japan. The success of the president’s trip is in no small measure a result of the hard work, focus, and dedication of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, our Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez, DFA USec Laura del Rosario, Trade Secretary Greg Domingo and DTI USec Chito Manalo.

The state visit made it apparently clear that the relations between Japan and the Philippines have become stronger and warmer over the years. No one would have imagined that the erstwhile enemies during the Second World War would become close allies, even conducting joint naval training exercises for the first time at the West Philippine Sea with over 600 Japanese personnel participating.

President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe during the signing of agreement at
the Joint Press Briefing at the Sairan-no-Ma Room
of the Akasaka State Guest House (Ryan Lim /
Malacañang Photo Bureau)

The state visit was also the second time that President Aquino met Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace since he assumed the presidency.

Unfortunately, the inclement weather kept some of us in the delegation—who were invited to join the historical meeting —from taking part in the official State Welcome Ceremony. Yet fate still managed to smile upon us because we were asked to join President Aquino when he visited the Japanese Diet where he delivered a keynote address on the bilateral relations between the two countries and our mutual security concerns—for which he was given a standing ovation by members of Parliament.

The economic briefing conducted by the Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group at Hotel Okura was a great opportunity for businessmen from both countries to explore potential investments. The same goes for the 21st Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia held at the same hotel with President Aquino as guest speaker and the networking lunches with various business groups.  

Modesty aside, I have had the privilege of joining official or state visits to several countries during the presidencies of Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Arroyo—and I have to admit that each experience is always different. Each one carries with it unique memories, special anecdotes and of course, notable accomplishments.

Yet one thing remains constant: Every time you pin the Philippine flag on your lapel to showcase your country and the best it has to offer the whole world, you become part of history—if not a catalyst of history.

President Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exchange views at the Asahi-no-Ma Room of the Akasaka State Guest House (Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau)

President Benigno S. Aquino III and Ambassador Manuel Lopez witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Business Promotion Cooperation between Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo and JETRO chairman Hiroyuki Ishige. (Robert Vinas/Malacañang Photo Bureau)
The president addresses the Joint Session of the National Diet of Japan at the Chamber of the House of Councillors.  (Ryan Lim/Malacañang Photo Bureau)
President Aquino, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko lead the singing of the Philippines and Japan National Anthems during the State Welcome Ceremony (Robert Vinas/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)
This columnist joined Filipino trade and business executives Atty. Pelagio Ricalde, governor representing the private sector, Board of Investments; Francis Laurel, president and CEO, YKK Philippines, Inc.; Richard Lim, COO, Eskaya Beach Resort Corp.; George Drysdale, chairman and CEO, Marsman Drysdale Group; Feliciano Torres, president and CEO, Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing; and Ramon Garcia, Jr., president and CEO, iWave, Inc.  
President Aquino graces the Philippine Investment Forum organized by the Japan External Trade Organization, Japan-Philippines Economic Cooperation Committee – Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Philippines Society of Japan and ASEAN-Japan Center at Hotel New Otani (Robert Vinas/ Malacañang Photo Bureau)

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