06 September 2013

Japanese officials visit Subic Freeport

Senior officials in charge of a Japanese prefecture hosting an American military base visited this free port on September 4, meeting with top officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to learn about Subic’s experience in base conversion.

Ichita Yamamoto, Japan’s Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, led the delegation that arrived here on Wednesday and called on SBMA chairman Roberto Garcia.

The Japanese official was on a three-day visit to the Philippines to take a look at Subic and Clark, both former U.S. military bases in the country that are considered to be models of bases conversion.

Yamamoto was accompanied in his Subic visit by Motomi Inoue, who is Director-General for Okinawa Affairs; Akio Isomata, a minister from the Japanese Embassy in the Philippines; and Masaru Ikeda, Director for Policy Coordination for Okinawa Affairs.

During the meeting, Yamamoto said that he was impressed with the development of the Subic Bay Freeport from being a U.S. military base into a premier tourism, logistics and investment hub.

Yamamoto said that the insights he gained during the visit would help in their efforts of converting the military bases in Okinawa Prefecture.

He also said that he was surprised to learn how truly skillful and easy to work with Filipino workers were.

Yamamoto also commented that the Freeport’s maritime facilities, particularly the container port terminal, are its strongest asset. However, he said that the Freeport should maximize the terminal’s full potential.

Yamamoto then commended Garcia for his leadership, stating that strong leadership is necessary for strong development.

Garcia, for his part, thanked Yamamoto for visiting the free port and informed the visitors that the SBMA is working on increasing Subic’s port terminal’s operations.

When asked about the Subic’s advantage over other special economic zones in the country, Garcia told the Japanese delegates that Subic is the first free port in the country and has 20 years of experience as compared to the other special economic zones.

Garcia also said that the Subic Bay Freeport hosts a thriving shipbuilding and dry-docking industry, making the Philippines the fourth largest shipbuilder in the world. (FMD/MPD-SBMA)

Japanese minister Ichita Yamamoto (left) receives a briefing from SBMA Chairman Roberto V. Garcia following his arrival at the Subic Bay Freeport. Yamamoto, who is Japan’s Minister of State for Okinawa and Northern Territories Affairs, visited former U.S. military bases in the Philippines to learn about their conversion to economic zones.