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Transcript of Media Briefing by Secretary (East) on upcoming visit of President to Philippines and Japan (October 16, 2019)

October 16, 2019

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: Good afternoon friends and welcome to this special briefing on the visit of Rashtrapati Ji to Philippines and Japan. The visit will take place from 17-23 October 2019. To the Philippines it’s a state visit and Hon’ble Rashtrapati Ji’s visit to Japan is to attend the enthronement ceremony of the Emperor of Japan. I have with me Secretary (East) who will take us through the different elements of the visit. She is joined here today by Jt. Secretary (East Asia), Naveen Srivastava, Manish, who is Jt. Secretary (South) and Shri Ajay Kumar Singh who is the Press Secretary to the Hon’ble President. We will have the initial remarks by Secretary (East) and then we will have question and answers.

Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh: Namaskar, as Raveesh said Rashtrapati Ji and First Lady will be paying a state visit to the Philippines. Philippines visit will be from 17-21 October, 2019 and this visit is at the invitation of the President of the Republic of Philippines Mr. Rodrigo Duterte. Thereafter Rashtrapati Ji will visit Japan from 21-23 October and that would be to attend ceremonies related to the accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne by His Majesty the Emperor, Naruhito who had ascended the throne on May 1, 2019.

The visit to the Philippines that is taking place in the year that we begin celebrations of 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and it is being undertaken with the view to carry forward the high level engagement that we have with the Philippines. Prime Minister had visited Manila in November 2017 and then President Duterte was here in New Delhi in January 2018 when we celebrated and observed the India-ASEAN Commemorative Summit – 25 years of the relationship.

Now Philippines is a key partner of India in the ASEAN region. Our relations with the Philippines have been friendly. We have shared values and we have commonalities and if you look at the economic relationship those have been growing. Trade today stands at $2.3 billion and India is exporting almost $1.7 billion to the Philippines last year. This means we had a growth of 17% increase of trade between our two countries in the last two years. We also have Indian companies in the Philippines and they are in many sectors, whether it is in textiles, IT, pharmaceutical, infrastructure and their presence has been there and the investments are around $600 million.

Philippines also has investments here and they are looking at other investment opportunities so you will see Philippines also investing in India and one of the purposes of Rashtrapati Ji’s visit is to see and flag the importance of economic engagement between our two countries. And not only in trade but also we would be looking at and we already do have ongoing cooperation with Philippines in various fields. We have it in health, we have in agriculture, we have in renewable energy and counter-terrorism.

If you look at our defence cooperation that has been underway and it is marked by exchange of visits of delegations, visits by naval ships and also training cooperation. We have set aside 30-40 slots every year for the Philippines armed forces to be trained for various coursed in India. And we did have an agreement, an MoU on defence, industry and logistics that was signed in 2017 and that has given the opportunity for the two countries to look at new areas of cooperation in defence, trade and cooperation.

As far as the program of the Rashtrapati ji is concerned in Manila, he will begin his state visit by laying a wreath at the Memorial of José Rizal, he is the national hero of the Philippines. Rashtrapati Ji will be given ceremonial Guard of Honor at the Malacañang Palace and thereafter the talks will commence between the two Presidents one to one followed ​by delegation level talks. President Duterte will also host state banquet for Rashtrapati Ji. A large business delegation would be there in the Philippines from various Indian Chambers of Industry, as I said economic partnership is an important part of the relationship and there will be the Indo-Philippines Business Conclave that will be held as well as the fourth ASEAN-India Business Summit. Rashtrapati Ji will be addressing the plenary of these business meets. Rashtrapati Ji will also unveil a bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the Center for Peace Education at the Mariam College. He will interact with a cross section of people in the Philippines apart from the Indian community which is about 130 thousand. There are Indian students in Philippines almost about 15 thousand. So Rashtrapati Ji will be interacting with the Indian community which is an important element of his program and that will be on the penultimate date of his visit to the Philippines. He will, apart from that, have an interaction with the beneficiaries of Jaipur Foot and also with some of the children who had come to India for liver transplant treatment in India. So he will be interacting with them as well.

From Manila Rashtrapati Ji will be going to Tokyo and was mentioned, for the enthronement ceremony of Emperor Naruhito. Rashtrapati Ji’s visit will be primarily for this purpose and he will attend the ceremonies which are being organized by the government of Japan where visiting Heads of State and Government will also be present.

President will arrive in Tokyo on 21st of October and on the same afternoon he will go to a Buddhist Temple in Tokyo where he will plant a Bodhi Tree, that itself is very significant because it marks the deep traditional and civilizational bonds which India and Japan share and also underlines the shared heritage of Buddhism.

After the visit to this Buddhist Temple Rashtrapati Ji will go to visit a Shinto Meji Shrine which is dedicated to the Emperor Meji and his wife, Empress Soakin and he would be there for about half an hour and that would be the first day of his stay in Japan.

The next two days i.e. 22 and 23 October, those two days are scheduled for ceremonies. On 22nd there would be the ceremony of enthronement which Rashtrapati Ji will participate and later in the evening on the 22nd Rashtrapati Ji will participate in the Court Banquet which will be hosted by the Emperor and Empress for the visiting State delegations.

The next day Rashtrapati Ji will participate in the official banquet which is being hosted by Prime Minister Abe and that is for the visiting Heads of States who would have taken part in the enthronement ceremony. As far as other elements of Rashtrapati Ji’s programs are concerned he will interact with the Indian community there as well which is being organized and which is an essential part of the high level visit but he will be visiting and travelling to the city Kakegawa in the forenoon of 23rd October. Now that is an areas in which a large number of Japanese companies including it is the headquarter of Suzy Corporation and it is about 230 kms from Tokyo and Rashtrapati Ji would be taking one of the Superfast trains and travel on that. Now there he will participate in the Foundation ceremony of Sino Soto which is a place which will be developed as a temple with space for meditation, yoga and as a center to highlight Indian tradition and culture.

So this brings us to the close and that will be Rashtrapati Ji’s program in Japan and his participation in ceremonies relating to the enthronement of the Emperor signifies the very high importance we attach to our relations with Japan and it is a relationship with a country with whom we have a very special, strategic and global partnership.

And this visit of Rashtrapati Ji also takes place in the background of a series of high level visits that have been taking place between the two countries. Prime Minister Abe and Prime Minister Modi have most recently met at Vladivostok in September 2019 on the margins of the Eastern Economic Forum. External Affairs Minister has also met the Japanese Foreign Minister in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA. The last presidential visit which took place from India to Japan was in 1990 and that time it was former President, Late President Venkatraman who had attended the enthronement ceremonies of Emperor Emeritus Akihoto who just stepped down last year. I will close here and we will take questions if any.

Question: Ma'am, on counterterrorism, can you just elaborate what kind of new things that we are going to work out given the fact that Philippines has gone through a lot in terms of terrorism of late and ISIS his presence has been largely there. Also in Japan, you know Japan is helping Indian in a lot of development work, so a little bit more on that, is something new on cards and any development on the high-speed trains that is being talked about?

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar:
We will take two to three questions.

Question: What are the sectors in which Indian companies are invested in Philippines?

Question: In Japan, is the President expected to invite the Emperor for a visit to India anytime soon?

Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh: As far as the Philippines is concerned, we have a Joint Working Group with them on counter-terrorism and that group had last met in 2017 and under that they discussed a whole range of issues relating to the threats that emanate from terrorism. We are looking at working together with them in areas in terms of combating urban terrorism as well as also we look with them and working on specific areas in terms of exchange of information and in terms of having joint, in fact even drugs also, we would be looking at how to cooperate with them on drugs because there is a link between narcotics and terrorism.

So that is the broad framework under which we will be cooperating with and working with them on counter-terrorism and you are absolutely right in saying that you know they have faced difficult situation on account of terrorism and at that point of time when the city of Marawi was decimated India had given about $ 500,000 for the reconstruction of the city.

The second question on the Philippines was in which sectors have been invested, in the Philippines well we are in the airport sector, we have a company which is looking at one of the airports at Cebu, in fact all the major eyeties and pharmaceutical companies are there in in the Philippines and also in companies relating to textiles. So those are the broad areas in which we have the Indian companies and Indian industry presence in the Philippines.

As regards Japan, of course that I mentioned to you that Rashtrapati Ji will be traveling in the high-speed train and he will be going from Tokyo to Kasagawa on that. Since it's not a substantive visit so you know, it's more a participation at the coronation ceremony and we would be looking at of course continuing the dialogue with the Japan both during the interactions that would be happening between the two leaders including, you would be aware that we have an annual dialogue with Japan, so the dialogue will continue with Japan to find new areas and to continue to implement what has been agreed to. As far as the invitation is concerned I am sure that Rashtrapati Ji would extend an invitation but of course it's for a Rashtrapati Ji to take that call.

Marawi assistance was $500,000.

Question: Does president have any plans to visit the Renkō-ji Temple?

Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh: I've already given the whole details of the program and that is the program of Rashtrapati Ji in Japan.

Question: Any details on what he plans to gift or whatever on the enthronement ceremony?

Secretary (East), Smt. Vijay Thakur Singh: I don't have any information on that. This is an enthronement ceremony so Rashtrapati Ji is going to participate in the enthronement ceremony.

Question: Madam you mentioned that the president will be participating in the foundation ceremony of Sino Soto which is a place dedicated to yoga and meditation. Yoga being very close to the prime minister's heart, I was wondering if India has given any inputs to the development of this temple?

Jt. Secretary (East Asia), Mr. Naveen Srivastava: See this temple is being built by a Japanese company. There's a lot of public support for this temple and the Indian community has also contributed to it. One of the main patron is an overseas Indian who's been there in Japan for a very long time. So that's how it is being done. It's not a government to government project, it is public project.

Question: …. Inaudible………..

Jt. Secretary (East Asia), Mr. Naveen Srivastava: Yes, he's an Indian origin person who's now naturalized citizen of Japan.

Official Spokesperson, Shri Raveesh Kumar: I don't see any other hand. Thank you ma'am, thank you Jt. Secretary and thank you Press Advisor and thank you all for joining.



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