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Philippine Praises Japan's Role in Regional Security - 2002-05-22

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, on an unofficial visit to Japan, says eradicating global poverty should be part of a long-term strategy in the international war on terrorism. She also praised Japan's new role in regional security.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in Tokyo for an international business conference, underscored her support for Japan's contribution to the U.S. led war on terrorism. "I believe that the United States, Japan and China and the relationship with one another play a very important role in the security of the region and I welcome the role Japan is playing now," Ms. Arroyo said.

Tokyo has provided Washington with limited logistical support for its anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. It is the first time Japan has played such a role since the end of World War II when it banned its military from any activity other than defending Japanese soil.

Tokyo's efforts have raised concerns in some parts of Asia, sensitive to Japan's militaristic past, which included invasions of the Philippines and other neighboring countries.

But Ms. Arroyo, who has welcomed U.S. military help in eradicating terrorist groups in the southern Philippines, showed little concern over Japan's move to be more active in regional security.

Ms. Arroyo believes financial assistance from Japan and military training and equipment from the United States in the last year has helped her government gain the upper hand in its long struggle against Muslim rebels in its poor southern provinces.

She stressed the link between eliminating poverty and stamping out the roots of terrorism. "This is not a world where we are afraid of strong states. This is a world where in fact we are afraid of weak states being used by the terrorists. This is a world where all countries are engaging in the war against terrorism which is a transnational threat and we have seen for instance how a weak state, like Afghanistan, could be used as a haven for terrorism," Ms. Arroyo said.

In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi Tuesday, Ms. Arroyo thanked him for $300 million in foreign aid and discussed ways to enhance economic and security cooperation.