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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Jul 15, 2022

The legacy of Shinzo Abe

The assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has shocked not only the people of Japan but also leaders from around the world.

The untimely demise of Japan’s longest-serving prime minister has also put the spotlight once again on his legacy. Abe is best known for his “Abenomics” policy that aimed to revitalize Japan’s economy through ramping up government spending, monetary easing, and structural reforms.

The Philippines-Japan economic ties further strengthened during his term, especially under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. Japan is one of our country’s top trading partners, and remained our top source of official development assistance (ODA) accounting for 36.44 percent or US$11 billion of the Philippines’ total ODA in 2020.

PM Abe was the first head of state to visit the Philippines under President Duterte, who also welcomed the Japanese leader in his Davao home.

During Abe’s state visit, the two leaders signed five bilateral agreements: The Exchange of Notes on the grant aid economic and social development program, which involves a 600-million-Yen grant for speed boats and anti-terrorism equipment for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG); the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on the low carbon growth partnership; the MOC between the PCG and the Japanese Coast Guard for enhanced maritime cooperation to promote maritime safety, security and marine environment protection; the MOC between the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication for the testing of road traffic info through data broadcasting; and the exchange for the loan agreement for Harnessing Agribusiness Opportunities through Robust and Vibrant Entrepreneurship Supportive of Peaceful Transformation (HARVEST).

PM Abe was also very supportive of the government’s “Build, Build, Build” program. In 2018, he made good on Japan’s pledge to support the construction of the Philippines’ first subway project when the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) signed the 104.53-billion-Yen loan agreement for the construction of the first phase of the Metro Manila Subway Project.

Japan also remained a dependable partner during crisis. It supported the government’s rehabilitation program of Marawi City. In 2018, the Japanese government turned over to the Philippine government 27 sets of brand new heavy equipment and 26 Mitsubishi utility vehicles. Moreover in 2019, during then President Duterte’s third state visit to Japan, PM Abe pledged a comprehensive development assistance for Mindanao.

PM Abe’s support for the “Build, Build, Build” was evident through the projects that the Japanese government, through JICA, funded through loans or grants, including the program for the support to rehabilitation and reconstruction of Marawi City and its surrounding areas, which involves the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Marawi Transcentral Road, supporting the development of new central business and peace-building efforts.

Other “Build, Build, Build” projects that the Japanese government supported include: The Road Network Development Project in Conflict-affected Areas in Mindanao (RNDP-CAAM), which involves the development, construction and improvement of about 174.58 kilometers of access roads connecting the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and other regions in Mindanao; the Road Upgrading and Preservation Project, which involves the improvement and maintenance of about 1,088.23 kilometers of arterial national roads across the country, enhancing transportation capability and efficiency and ensuring sustainability of roads; the Arterial Road Bypass Project, Phase III (Plaridel Bypass); the Davao City Bypass Construction Project; the Central Luzon Link Expressway Project, Phase I; the Metro Manila Interchange Construction Project, Phase VI; and the Cebu Mactan Bridge (4th) and Coastal Road Construction Project.

Japan also supported infrastructure projects that would enhance the disaster resilience of the country. These projects include: The Metro Manila Priority Bridges Seismic Improvement Project; the Flood Risk Management Project for Cagayan River, Tagoloan River, and Imus River; the Flood Risk Management Project for Cagayan de Oro River; the Cavite Industrial Area Flood Management Project; and the Pasig Marikina River Channel Improvement Project, Phase IV.

Former Prime Minister Abe may have passed on, but he will be remembered by Filipinos through these projects he fervently supported and Japan’s robust relations with the Philippines during his time.

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