GMA to visit Japan

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will go to Japan on June 17 to 20, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.

The visit will be made following the invitation of the Japanese government.

Mrs. Arroyo’s trip will include a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso and a royal audience with Their Majesties, The Emperor and Empress of Japan.

The working visit will be an opportunity for the two leaders to discuss the state of bilateral relations and sustain the momentum for a strategic partnership, especially with the implementation of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA).

Japan is one of the Philippines’ major trade and development partners.

It remains the Philippines’ top export market and second largest trade market, with total bilateral trade amounting to $14.2 billion.

Japan is also one of the top sources of investment to and tourist arrivals in the country.

The government of Japan has consistently been the Philippines’ biggest source of official development assistance (ODA).

Japanese ODA — in the form of yen loans, grant aid and technical cooperation — amounted to US$11.04 billion from 1956 to 2006.

Japan is also actively engaged in Mindanao, especially in the reconstruction and development of conflict-affected communities.