Japan renews support for PH disaster response efforts

Japan has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting the Philippines in its humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) efforts to address the threats of natural disasters.

Photo from the Japanese Embassy in Manila

The Japanese Embassy in Manila made the statement following the conclusion of its HA/DR relief cooperation project with Philippine forces in Taguig City from November 15 to 19, 2021.

According to the Embassy, this was the first HA/DR activity that was conducted since the turnover of the HA/DR equipment to the Philippines last month.

Through the JPY 500 million "Non-Project Grant Aid for Provision of Japanese Disaster Reduction Equipment" signed in March 2015, Japan provided lifesaving tools for search and rescue operations such as electric hydraulics, cutters, spreaders, electric pumps, and search sound detectors to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) HA/DR.

Also provided were lifeboats, life jackets, and man-carrying belts designed for use in situations involving tsunamis and sudden torrential rainfall.

In its statement, the Japanese Embassy in Manila noted how both countries are vulnerable to natural disasters.

"As nations vulnerable to natural disasters, Japan and the Philippines share common experiences with disasters like earthquakes and typhoons due to their climate, geography, and topography," the Embassy's statement read.

"Japan steadfastly supports the Philippines in its HA/DR efforts to address the threats of natural disasters and build back better societies," it furthered.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense (JMOD) and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) had the HA/DR cooperation project with the Philippine Army at the Mandirigtas Training Area, Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

The training unit of the 43rd Infantry Regiment of the JGSDF was deployed to participate in the five-day activity, along with the 525th Engineer Combat Battalion (ECB) of the Philippine Army.

The Embassy said both units conducted HA/DR training exhibitions to demonstrate their HA/DR capabilities in different disaster situations.

The participants also held lectures and exchanged their ideas, challenges, and best practices of past HA/DR operations. Minister Yamamoto Yasushi, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan, observed the bilateral activity guided by LTC Ervin Divinagracia, Commander of 525th Engineer Combat Battalion.

Meanwhile, Japan reiterated the importance of maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), which is inclusive and based on the rule of law, democratic values, territorial integrity, transparency, and peaceful resolution of disputes, and underscores its intention to work together with the Philippines and other partner countries through a wide range of activities and cooperation for peace, stability, and prosperity in our regions and beyond.

In November 2013, Japan extended assistance to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The JMOD and the JSDF deployed a total of 1,180 personnel, three vessels, and sixteen aircraft for medical assistance and relief supply in affected areas.