ILOILO – The Japanese government, through Japan International Cooperation Agency, looks forward to sustain the impact it has contributed to the economic development of Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Through the years, JICA Philippines Chief Representative Noriaki Niwa believed that their Official Development Assistance has gone a long way in helping ASEAN build better communities.
“Japan has been an active partner of ASEAN development. I believe that its ODA has contributed to strengthening of gender and development, sustainable agriculture, development of micro, small, and medium enterprises, climate change adaptation, human security, among others,” said Niwa.
Niwa also challenged the JICA alumni scholars from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Japan, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam to be the prime movers in ASEAN integration.
“The way to integration does not happen overnight. Cooperation between ASEAN member-nations is a must,” he stressed.
Niwa was in the city and province of Iloilo for the 21st Regional Leaders Forum of ASEAN-Japan Friendship Association from November 20-23.
Hosted by JICA Alumni Association of the Philippines, he was welcomed by Atty. Suzette Mamon, who represented Governor Arthur Defensor Sr. during the forum.
Mamon underscored the importance of stronger people-to-people ties among ASEAN members to advance economic development and mutual cooperation.
She also thanked JICA for helping Iloilo improve its business climate through the airport and flood control project it built in 2007 and 2011.
The 21st Regional Leaders Forum held in Casa Real de Iloilo revolved on theme “AJAFA @30: Strengthening the Network of ASEAN Scholars”.
The forum highlighted the rendition of country reports, sharing of information among member association and familiarization of Philippine culture, customs and traditions.
ASEAN and Japanese participants also held a ceremonial tree planting in Leganes on November 22 to emphasize the importance of trees in addressing the effects of climate change. JAN
The Philippines posted a 6.6% economic growth in 2012 and in 2013, gained investment-grade ratings from two credit rating agencies. Amidst the economic growth, however, many problems remain. Unemployment rate stands at 7.1% and the 27.9% poverty incidence remained practically the same between 2006 and 2012.
JICA in the Philippines provides cooperation in economic growth, poverty reduction, disaster mitigation, other development issues such as health and governance, and in promoting peace and development in conflict-affected Mindanao. With these focus points, JICA aims to promote inclusive and dynamic development to secure a better future for Filipinos.
About Chief Representative Noriaki Niwa:
Noriaki Niwa is an agricultural economics and rural development expert.
Prior to his appointment as head of JICA in the Philippines, Mr Niwa served as JICA Chief Representative in Nepal in 2007. While in Nepal, Mr Niwa helped steer state-building strategies for Nepal’s economic growth and development. He initiated the JICA-Nepal collaboration involving policy makers, government officials, and the private sector, in addition to various cooperation activities.
A Tokyo University graduate, Mr Niwa served as assistant resident representative of JICA in the Philippines in 1987.