MANILA, Philippines – Even as Japan’s wartime victims accused its prime minister of not apologizing enough during the commemoration of the end of World War 2 on Saturday, the Philippines said its current relationship with its former invader is proof that countries can get over their bad blood and become good friends.
“This 70-year history demonstrates to the world that through their relentless efforts, people of two countries can attain a remarkable achievement in overcoming issues of the past and establishing a strong friendship,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario as saying.
“The Philippines’ relationship with Japan in particular has been characterized by trust and unfailing support in so many fields, as Japan has acted with compassion and in accordance with international law, and has more actively and more positively engaged the region and the world,” he added, referring to the state of the two countries’ ties which he described as stronger than ever.
Japan is one of the Philippines’ top trading partners and is now the No. 1 giver of development assistance to the country.
Amid the ongoing tensions in the West Philippine and East China Sea, both countries have also been upgrading their bilateral defenses against an ever-aggressive China.
China is locked with both countries and several others in territorial disputes over the two regions; with the Philippines, over the resource-rich West Philippine Sea; and with Japan, over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Rosario’s effusive praise for Japan stood in contrast with those made by the leaders of China and the two Koreas—nations that were occupied by Japan in World War 2.
China described Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s speech as a non-apology while North and South Korea called it “an unpardonable mockery of the Korean people” and as something that “left much to be desired.”