Japan, a worthy ally

By Herbert Vego

IT had taken months of discussions before the proposed Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between the Philippines and Japan took the form of a military pact that only needs ratification by legislatures of both countries to roll out.

But as we all know now, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Kihara Minoru stepped into Malacañang on Monday to sign the RAA with their Filipino counterparts, Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro in the presence of President Marcos who called it the result of what they had been “working hard to achieve.”

“The Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations are situated in a very strategically important region,” Kihara said. “Advancing defense cooperation and exchanges with the Philippines is important for Japan.”

To Secretary Teodoro, there could be no substitute for neighboring countries disrupting China’s aggression “to bring the biggest Asian power to the table of negotiation and obey rules-based order.”

RAA is akin to our old Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) with the United States that binds both countries to defend each other in case of a third country’s act of aggression.

It brings an unwritten message to Beijing that we are not afraid because we are strong.

The world is well aware of China’s repetitious “bullyings” against the Philippine Coast Guard and Filipino fishermen within our exclusive economic zone at the West Philippine Sea.

It goes without saying that Japan sees China as a “bully” intent on subjugating smaller nations including Japan itself, which had earlier forged similar agreements with Australia in 2022 and with Great Britain in 2023.

But why are we cooperating with the country that invaded and colonized us during World War II in 1941 until 1945?

The simple reason is that after the war, Japan has ceased to be our enemy and begun to be our ally. Having engaged China in a number of wars in the past, she needs allies in modern times for self-preservation. With stronger military support from allies like the US, Britain and India, we would send a strong signal to China that nations within the same region are united amid rising tensions in the South China Sea.

Japan’s remorsefulness for damages done in the war is best exemplified by its renunciation of war as a national policy in her post-war 1947 Constitution. She has consequently reversed itself from an imperialist power into a pacifist nation focused on economic growth.

In fact, ours is among the countries that have benefited immensely from Japan’s assistance and cooperation programs through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) — from infrastructure to health care, education, and food security — since 1974.

Thus, I find it senseless that Rep. Arlene D. Brosas (Gabriela party-list) opposes the RAA, citing human rights abuses made by Japanese soldiers (probably now all dead) to “comfort women” during the war. Why carry the past over to the present?

“Comfort women” is a euphemism for women who were forced into sexual enslavement in military brothels in the countries that the Japanese soldiers occupied during their occupation of the Philippines.

So-called progressive organizations need not be deluded into believing that the Philippines can have a “truly independent foreign policy” without signing agreements with other countries.

“Interdependence” – where weaker countries work together to push back a giant force – is the best substitute for “independence.”

-oOo-

DOES LIGHTNING CAUSE POWER OUTAGE?

MASSIVE power outages hit many households in Iloilo City Monday night along with heavy rains, thunder and lightning. Fortunately, power was restored in less than an hour.

MORE Power information officer Joy Fantilaga was quick to chat, “Energization is on hold. High voltage direct current is blocked.”

She did not pinpoint the exact trigger of the outages. But we are all aware that lightning may knock down power lines, blow objects into overhead lines, flood power-related equipment, or damage insulation, among others.

Lightning, a natural phenomenon, can unleash powerful electrical discharges that can disrupt our daily lives. One common occurrence during lightning storms is the tripping of circuit breakers.

But thanks to MORE Power’s automatic circuit reclosers that are capable of interrupting fault current by automatically disconnecting a section of feeder in the event of a short circuit.

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