Fukushima residents after Typhoon Hagibis: ‘We’ve never seen damage like this’

Robie de Guzman   •   October 15, 2019   •   737

Rescue works are underway in flooded areas in Kawagoe, Saitama prefecture, Japan, 13 October 2019. According to latest media reports, at least 26 people have died and more than 20 are missing after powerful typhoon Hagibis hit Japan provoking landslides and rivers overflowing across the country. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS

Fukushima residents on Tuesday (October 15) took stock of the damage left in the wake of Hagibis as the death toll of the worst typhoon to hit Japan for decades climbed to 66.

The highest death toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the largely agricultural prefecture.

At least 25 people died in Fukushima, including a mother and child who were caught in floodwaters, NHK said. Another child of the woman remains missing.

Part of Masaharu Ishizawa’s family’s back garden had been washed away, breaking water pipes and electricity lines.

The family was using water carried from a local community center to clean up.

Two doors down, an old house had collapsed after the flood washed its foundations away.

About 133,000 households were without water while 22,000 lacked electricity, well down on the hundreds of thousands initially left without power but a cause for concern in northern areas where temperatures are falling.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a parliament committee on Tuesday (October 15) that the government is planning to classify the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis as a “catastrophic disaster.” (Reuters)

(Production: Kwiyeon Ha, Hideto Sakai, Akiko Okamoto)

Japan’s PM Yoshihide cancels visit to the Philippines due to COVID threat

Marje Pelayo   •   April 22, 2021

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide

MANILA, Philippines –  Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has cancelled his planned visit to the Philippines this month in view  of the COVID-19 situation.

This was confirmed by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque saying the Prime Minister’s decision “deserves support” as both the Philippines and Japan are prioritizing their respective battles against the pandemic.

Despite the cancellation, Roque said the “strategic partnership and broad cooperation” between the two countries will remain.

South China Sea issue related to regional peace and stability; ‘a concern for all’ – Japan

Marje Pelayo   •   March 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Embassy of Japan in Manila on Tuesday (March 23) reacted to the current situation in the South China Sea (SCS) following a statement from the United States expressing its concern over the presence of some 200 Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

In a statement on Twitter, Japanese Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko said the matter is ‘directly related to peace and stability’ and therefore ‘a concern for all’ in the region.

“The South China Sea issues are directly related to peace and stability and a concern for all. Japan strongly opposes any action that heightens tensions,” Kazuhiko said.

“We support the enforcement of rule of law in the sea and work with the international community to protect the free, open, and peaceful seas,” he added.

On Monday (March 22), the Department of National Defense (DND) through the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) confirmed that about 200 vessels, believed to be Chinese militia, have been sighted at Julian Felipe Reef.

In response, the Chinese Embassy in Manila clarified in a statement that the vessels were actually fishing vessels taking shelter from rough seas. It also insisted that the area in question is part of China.

As the country’s defense ally, the United States said it stands with the Philippines as it expressed concern about the gathering of China’s maritime vessels near Julian Felipe Reef or Whitsun Reef.

In a follow up statement, the Embassy said “the United States is not a party to the South China Sea issue” and what it does is “fanning flames and provoking confrontation in the region will only serve the selfish interests of individual countries and undermine the regional peace and stability.”

The Julian Felipe Reef is a large shallow coral reef at the northeast of Pagkakaisa Banks and Reefs or Union Reefs. It is located approximately 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan.

PH, Japan reaffirm commitment to better economic ties

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Finance (DOF) reported that the Philippines and Japan have reaffirmed their commitment to further enhance economic partnership, which includes plans to expand Japanese investments in the country.

During a recent courtesy call on Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, newly designated Japan Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko said that Japanese companies are exploring ways of realigning their supply chains to other countries like the Philippines.

Koshikawa said the approval by the Senate of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill was welcomed by Japanese investors doing business in the Philippines.

The measure aims to lower the corporate income tax (CIT) for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with a net taxable income of P5 million and below to 20 percent, while other companies, including foreign firms, will pay a harmonized rate of 25 percent.

The current CIT, which is the region’s highest, is 30 percent.

Dominguez, for his part, said that aside from the CIT rate cut, CREATE will also allow the government to tailor fit incentives given to businesses so as to attract the kind of investors that it wants to invest in the Philippines.

The Finance chief also told the ambassador that the Philippines’ competitive edge in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs) is its young working population, which complements Japan’s highly skilled labor force and makes the two countries ideal “demographic partners.”

During the meeting, Koshikawa also restated Japan’s continuing support for the Philippine government’s efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, as well as its disaster risk reduction and mitigation programs.

Citing the signing in September between the two countries of the 50-billion yen Post-Disaster Standby Loan (PDSL) Phase 2, the Ambassador reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to continue assisting the Philippines in its disaster risk reduction and mitigation programs.

Since the start of the Duterte administration in July 2016, 15 loan agreements totaling JPY679.296 billion (about P313.147 billion or US$6.443 billion) have been signed by Manila with Tokyo.

Before beginning his tour of duty in Manila, Ambassador Koshikawa was a senior official at the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and had served as Japan’s Ambassador to Spain and Angola.

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