A $2.4 billion dollar railway system project funded by the Japanese government is on its way for the immediate construction and implementation, as it will be one of the solutions to ease traffic congestions in Metro Manila.

The construction of the Japan railway project is one of the topics that had been discussed and agreed upon during a meeting of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday, August 11 in the southern city of Davao.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (right) speaks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida (third from left) and his delegation at the presidential guest house in Davao city, Philippines. PHOTO: EPA

This railway, the North-South Commuter Railway Project, is set to connect Tutuban in Manila and Malolos in Bulacan.

The Japanese embassy said. “This is seen contributing to the expansion of Metro Manila’s economic sphere and alleviation of air pollution.”

 

Masato Ohtaka, deputy press secretary for Japan’s foreign ministry, told reporters in Manila that “This is one of the biggest projects Japan has ever embarked upon using the yen loan for the Philippines to build a 38-kilometer railway.”

Ohtaka said “Railways are one of our fortes … We sympathize with the Filipinos that this is a project that needs to be done very, very quickly.”

Ohtaka explained that the Philippines is “a very important partner” of his country, “and prosperity in the Philippines is very important.”

Ohtaka, however, is unsure if the Philippines will use 100% Japanese technology to build the Malolos-Tutuban railway.

“Maybe not 100%, but I think there will be some competition, too, and it will be for the Filipino authorities to decide, so it will be your option whether you want Japanese technology or you want something different. You just have to compare,” he said.

Ohtaka said there is, in any case, a push for Japanese companies “to be involved.”

Ohtaka said Japan was also open to building a railway in the southern region of Mindanao, a project President Rodrigo Duterte had previously said China offered to fund.

The Philippines has sought to strengthen ties with Japan, a former World War II enemy, as both nations face a tense maritime dispute with Beijing over the South China Sea. – JCE

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