One may consider Japan Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko’s arrival in the Philippines a case of perfect timing—despite the inauspicious circumstances brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic—with the 65th anniversary of the two countries’ normalization of diplomatic relations.
Koshikawa brings with him a wealth of experience, with a storied foreign service career that brought him to New York, Angola and Spain. Most recently, he served as executive senior vice president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, regarded among the Philippines’ most important development partners.
“I vow to exert every possible effort on the following areas between the Philippines and Japan: trade and investment, infrastructure development, disaster risk reduction, medical and health sector, agriculture, the Mindanao peace process, and peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
He will also oversee the construction of the Philippines’ first-ever subway system and other quality infrastructure projects. “I am also hopeful of wider roles for OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) in Japan,” he said, given the abundance of young and competent Filipino workers that can complement his country’s aging population.
Cultural exports also increased, especially in the form of anime and manga. Along with this, sports also offer an interesting dynamic on Japan-Philippines relations.
Koshikawa vowed to ensure that future generations of Japanese do not forget the war and continue to follow the path of a peace-loving nation, which Japan has laid since the end of World War II.
Free COVID vaccines
China Ambassador Huang Xilian arrived on the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the Philippines, at the height of the pandemic.
He was born in Zhang Zhou city of Fujian province, where most Filipino-Chinese come from. When he was a young boy, his parents told him that across the sea, in the Philippines, they had many relatives. So the Philippines became a familiar country to him. As a young diplomat, the first country he visited was the Philippines.
Early in his stay in the Philippines, Huang said, “I look forward to furthering China-Philippines cooperation, including major infrastructure projects and robust trade. The embassy will also consistently support the independent foreign policy of the Philippines for its own good.”
Huang also shared his appreciation of the solidarity, as well as the valuable support extended by the Philippine government and people amid the pandemic. He said China was willing to provide 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to the Philippines and would guide enterprises to promote vaccine procurement cooperation as soon as possible.
The two countries have completed 11 G-to-G cooperation projects, covering drug control, antiterrorism, food security, radio and television services, and other fields.
Pedaling out of crisis
Netherlands Ambassador Saskia de Lang comes to the Philippines with 30 years of experience, with previous postings in Canada, Uganda, Mali and the Republic of Congo.
“In many ways, the Philippines feels familiar,” she said. As seafaring nations, the Philippines and the Netherlands are both outward-looking and share a joint sense of responsibility for our planet.
No wonder the Netherlands Embassy in Manila is focusing on sustainability in all sectors, thus sharing state-of-the-art technology and expertise with the Philippines.
Sustainability is at the core of the Dutch companies investing in the Philippines, be it in agriculture, water, energy, finance or manufacturing. Social sustainability is expressed in the embassy’s work to fight human trafficking, for the benefit of seafarers, OFWs, and vulnerable children. Throughout 2021, these sectors will be highlighted to mark the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations.As a biking country at heart, the Netherlands is providing technical knowledge for long-term solutions, with bicycle lanes connecting to other means of transport.
“Let’s pedal our way out of the crisis,” said De Lang, who is often spotted in her neighborhood on her iconic orange bike. —CONTRIBUTED INQ