By Zaldy De Layola

TOP LEGISLATORS. House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez (4th, right panel) and Japanese Speaker Fukushiro Nukaga (center, left panel) meet at the Tokyo parliamentary building on Tuesday (June 18, 2024). The lawmakers shared a moment of camaraderie and diplomatic dialogue aimed at strengthening the ties between the Philippines and Japan. (House Media Affairs Office photo)

MANILA – House of Representatives Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez said the Philippine delegation he led has secured a firm commitment from top Japanese parliamentarians to facilitate the hiring of more Filipinos by the Japanese government, particularly in crucial sectors, such as elderly care.

They acquired the commitment during high-level discussions with National Diet of Japan Speaker Fukushiro Nukaga and Vice Speaker Banri Kaieda at the Tokyo parliamentary building on Tuesday.

During the meeting, Kaieda acknowledged Japan’s demographic challenges and the valuable contributions of Filipino workers.

“Japan is facing a decrease in population, and in this regard, Japan truly appreciates the Filipinos working here, especially elderly care workers. We are looking forward to welcoming more Filipinos to work in Japan,” Kaieda said.

Responding to this commitment, Romualdez underscored the potential for enhanced cooperation between the two nations.

He said the Philippines has a growing population, and Filipinos are more than happy to come and work in Japan after receiving the appropriate training.

“This will enable Filipino workers to integrate into society and benefit from the best practices and advanced technology that Japan has to offer,” Romualdez said.

“It creates an ideal environment for Japan to continue investing in the Philippines, not just in human resources but in Japanese-trained human resources, which will further promote economic cooperation between our countries.”

Uplift the economy

In the same meeting, Nukaga committed to continued cooperation to help uplift the Philippine economy, noting the presence of 1,400 Japanese companies operating in the Philippines.

“I will continue to cooperate with the Philippines to help uplift the Philippine economy,” he said.

Romualdez thanked Japan for its unwavering support for more than 300,000 Filipinos residing in the country.

“We appreciate your efforts in securing, nurturing, and accepting our Filipinos who are in Japan,” he said, citing the importance of these diplomatic efforts in fostering a strong community and ensuring the welfare of Filipino expatriates.

Romualdez also highlighted Japan’s leading role in providing economic assistance through the Official Development Fund (ODA), which is important in the Philippines’ development and disaster response.

He also mentioned and acknowledged the continuous support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), noting its contributions to the Philippines’ economic landscape.

He said the high-level exchanges and visits by respective heads of state, including the historic signing of the trilateral agreement in Washington DC involving Japan, the Philippines, and the United States, further underscored the strengthening alliance.

“We are happy because this is a great lead-up to the celebration of 70 years of our diplomatic relations in 2026,” he said.

Robust ties

Nukaga pointed out the enduring and robust relationship between Japan and the Philippines.

“Japan and the Philippines, both island nations, have a strong foundation to build good relations and friendly bridges,” he added, as he acknowledged the significant presence of Filipinos in Japan, particularly in his hometown of Ibaraki Prefecture.

Reflecting on his previous roles, Nukaga mentioned his tenure as the chair of the parliamentary group for JICA and as the Minister of Finance, where he led efforts to increase JICA’s budget.

He noted that the Philippines is the third-largest recipient of Japan’s ODA, after India and Bangladesh.

Discussing the trilateral meetings among Japan, the Philippines, and the United States, Nukaga stressed the importance of these alliances.

“The alliance between Japan and the United States is strong and built on trust. It is very important to promote cooperation among our three countries to ensure safe maritime transport and the safety and stability of the region,” he said.

Nukaga also noted the recent joint maritime exercise involving Japan, the US, the Philippines, and Canada as a testament to this cooperation.

He emphasized the foundational principles of security, democracy, and the rule of law.

Also present during the meeting were Japan House of Representatives International Affairs Department Director General Yamamoto Hironori, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose M. Dalipe, senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Deputy Speaker David Suarez, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Zaldy Co, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, House Secretary General Reginald S. Velasco, House Sergeant-at-Arms retired general Napoleon C. Taas, and other House officials. (PNA)