622k Filipinos visited Japan in 2023 – JNTO

More than 620,000 Filipinos visited Japan last year as outbound tourism surged with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.

Data from the Japan National Tourism Organization shows there were 622,300 visitors from the Philippines in 2023, up 1.5% from the levels recorded in 2019 or before the COVID-19 pandemic.

”Last July, the number was the highest in ASEAN. People-to-people exchange is flourishing. We would like to keep our country attractive to the Filipino people,” Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko said in his speech during the annual National Day Reception at the Grand Hyatt Manila to celebrate the 64th birthday of Emperor Naruhito on Friday.

In comparison, 305,580 Japanese nationals visited the Philippines in 2023, according to the Department of Tourism.

Koshikawa said bilateral relations ”have evolved beyond traditional areas and made great progress in a variety of new areas with the warm support of the Filipino people.”

He expressed Japan’s full commitment to contributing to the construction of key infrastructure projects such as the Metro Manila Subway, the North-South Commuter Railway, and the Davao Bypass, as well as the provision of additional brand-new patrol vessels for the Philippine Coast Guard.

”As for the private sector, Japan welcomes ongoing efforts to improve the investment and business environment of the Philippines,” Koshikawa said.

”I am convinced that it will lead to a steady and substantial increase in foreign direct investment in this country with immense potential. At the same time, we also greatly anticipate investment in Japan from the Philippine business community, and the Japanese Embassy and JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) will provide assistance to interested companies,” he added.

He also expects security and defense cooperation to progress further after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to begin negotiations for the Reciprocal Access Agreement aimed at facilitating cooperation between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Japan Self-Defense Force.

”In addition, our leaders agreed that the Philippines would be the first recipient of Official Security Assistance with the provision of coastal radar systems,” Koshikawa said.

He also reiterated Japan’s commitment ”to ensuring lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao.”

”Under the strong leadership of both countries and your support, I hope cooperation between Japan and the Philippines will grow to even greater heights,” he said.

Speaker Martin Romualdez, Chief Justice Alexander Gesmundo, Executive Secretary Lucas Bersamin, and the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines Archbishop Charles John Brown were among those who attended the celebration. — VBL, GMA Integrated News

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