Japan’s capital braces for what could be heaviest rain in 60 years

Robie de Guzman   •   October 11, 2019   •   1149

A handout photo made available by NASA shows a visible image acquired from the MODIS instrument aboard NASA’s Terra Satellite of Typhoon Hagibis approaching the southeast coast of Japan, 09 October 2019 (issued 10 October 2019).  EPA-EFE/NASA GODDARD MODIS RAPID RESPONSE

A powerful storm approached Japan on Friday (October 11), threatening to batter its capital with the heaviest rain in 60 years, disrupting a Formula One Grand Prix and rugby’s World Cup and raising fears of transport chaos.

Typhoon Hagibis, which means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog, is due to make landfall on the main island of Honshu on Saturday (October 12), a month after one of the strongest typhoons to hit Japan in recent years destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses and caused extensive power cuts.

The storm could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958 and people should also prepare for high waves and storm surges, Yasushi Kajihara, forecast division director at the Japan Meteorological Agency, told media during a Friday briefing.

Rugby World Cup organisers on Thursday (October 10) cancelled Saturday’s game between England and France as well as New Zealand’s match against Italy due to the risk from the typhoon. Japanese Formula One Grand Prix organisers also cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday.

Typhoon Hagibis is expected to pass over or get close to Tokyo and neighbouring areas including Chiba prefecture, which is still recovering from a devastating typhoon Faxai that struck a month ago. (Reuters)

(Production: Yasuteru Ueda, Kwiyeon Ha)

DOE, Japanese firm ink deal to update PH oil contingency plan

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on Tuesday signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for a study that would update the 2002 Philippine National Oil Contingency Plan, as well as provide recommendations on the creation and operation of a Strategic Petroleum (SPR) Program.

The MOA was virtually signed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi and JOGMEC CEO Tetsuhiro Hosono.

“Today’s signing speaks volumes on Japan’s commitment to help the Philippines succeed in attaining its energy security goals. I take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the Japanese government and its private sector for helping us attain our long-term goals,” Cusi said in a statement.

The DOE said the agreement is an offshoot of the DOE’s collaboration with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and JOGMEC to update the 2002 METI study, “Master Plan for the Development of Stockpiling for the Philippines.”

Under the MOA, JOGMEC will conduct a study within eight months of its signing, and the parties shall have a one-year consultative period after the submission of the final report.

The main areas of the study are:

  • The international petroleum products’ supply and demand situation in the past five years and the expected growth for the next 20 years;
  • The international strategic petroleum reserve program situation in the past five years to address supply disruptions;
  • The existing international oil supply security agreements both in ASEAN and other regions of the world and how the Philippines could participate;
  • The Philippine petroleum products’ supply and demand situation in the past five years and expected growth for the next 20 years;
  • Philippine Government-owned and privately-owned crude oil and finished petroleum products’ storage facilities in the past five years and the expected growth for the next 20 years;
  • Existing Philippine policies and implementation to address petroleum products’ supply for normal demand, as well as demand for contingency/emergency response due to any international or domestic supply disruption;
  • An analysis of the gaps in the existing Philippine Government-owned and private-owned petroleum products’ storage facilities to address the existing and the expected growth in demand, as well as the contingency/emergency response during any international and domestic supply disruption;
  • An analysis of the gaps in the existing Philippine policies on contingency/emergency response to any international and domestic supply disruption;
  • An analysis of the role of the DOE, the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and other relevant government agencies to address the Philippine national petroleum products’ contingency/emergency supply strategies and measures;
  • Provide recommendations on the creation and operation of the Philippine PSRP;
  • Submit to DOE the recommended updated 2002 Philippine National Oil Contingency Plan incorporating all the above data, information, analysis, SPRP recommendations and the overall recommendations on how to address the Philippine national petroleum products supply security and contingency/ emergency response to any international or domestic supply disruption.

Two months after the completion of the study, JOGMEC will submit to the DOE its final output, an updated 2002 Philippine National Oil Contingency Plan, and all its corresponding relevant data and information, the department said.

They will likewise provide relevant recommendations on the creation and operation of the Philippine Strategic Petroleum Reserve Program, it added.

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.

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