Zubiri, Romualdez believe Japan won't abuse RAA: Japanese are so disciplined | Inquirer News

Zubiri, Romualdez believe Japan won’t abuse RAA: Japanese are so disciplined

/ 04:21 PM November 04, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — The leaders of both chambers of Congress have allayed fears that the reciprocal access agreement (RAA) with Japan — believed to be a version of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States — will lead to potential abuses of Filipinos as the Japanese soldiers are disciplined.

In an ambush interview on Saturday, Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said that there are guidelines that Japanese soldiers must follow should the RAA be ratified — and similarly, guidelines that Filipino troops must observe as the deal also mandates training of local soldiers in Japan.

Zubiri said this after Japan Prime Minister Kishida Fumio addressed the Philippine Congress in a special joint session where the Japanese leader mentioned the RAA as something that he and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had agreed on.


“Maybe to also answer that: the Japanese military, the Self-Defense Forces are so disciplined.  You know, we have guidelines here in the RAA which they cannot abuse, as they are required to follow the rule of law in the Philippines and also for our soldiers, when they are in Japan, to also follow the rule of law of Japan,” Zubiri, speaking in Filipino, told reporters.


“Because that’s no longer one-sided, the Japanese self-defense forces would no longer train here only, but our soldiers from the Navy and Coast Guard personnel would also train in Japan,” he added.

Zubiri also mentioned that for the Philippines’ VFA with the US, only two incidents have occurred after 30 years of skill exchanges between the two countries.

The situation with the RAA would be better, Zubiri said, as Japanese soldiers are known for their discipline.

“And we have seen in the several years with the VFA, the Visiting Forces Agreement, I think it’s almost over 30 years since the 1990s, since we approved the VFA, there have only been two major incidents of violation of law involving American troops,” Zubiri said.

“Much more with the Japanese who are so disciplined, our siblings from Japan, the Self-Defense Forces.  So I doubt very much that it will be a big issue,” he added.

Zubiri was referring to the two incidents involving US soldiers who were dragged into controversies regarding sexual abuse — Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was tried for the 2005 rape of a Filipino woman, and private first class Joseph Scott Pemberton, who was found guilty of killing transgender woman Jennifer Laude.


Meanwhile, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez believes that the presence of media, social media, and technology would be deterrents to abuses.

“I think not, because, of course, we see now that in this day and age of mass media and technology and social media, we are sensitive to these issues, and we have learned from our experience in the past,” Romualdez said after being asked if the RAA might lead to abuse of Filipino women.

“And here we can see that we would give respect not only to our Filipino women but to also our fellow Filipinos,” he added.

Zubiri and Romualdez’s answers came after opposition lawmaker and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro expressed concerns over the RAA, saying that Filipino women may be placed at risk with the pact.

Castro also emphasized that Japan has not even apologized to Filipino women who were sexually abused by Japanese soldiers during the Second World War.

“This security agreement between the Philippines and Japan is worrisome because this may cause further abuses to human rights, especially that of women,” she said.

“Japan has not even asked for forgiveness for the abuses they committed against comfort women during the World War, but they are here again with plans to put their military personnel in the Philippines,” she added.

During his speech before Congress, Kishida mentioned that he and Marcos have agreed to push through with formal talks on the RAA, which is seen to further deepen strategic cooperation between the Philippines and Japan.

Talks of a VFA-like agreement between Japan and the Philippines have been swirling since the early part of 2023, but during Marcos’ trip to Tokyo last February, the said deal was not discussed.

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READ: Philippines, Japan sign key agreements during PM Kishida’s visit to PH

TAGS: Japan, Romualdez, Zubiri

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