Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida meets GPH and MILF officials in Tokyo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 June) — Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to peace and development in Mindanao, particularly in the Bangsamoro, during his meeting Saturday with officials of the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

A report from the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo dated June 20 said Kishida met with National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Yasmin Busran-Lao, and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel M. Lopez, and MILF chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, at the sidelines of the Japan-organized “High-Level Seminar on Peacebuilding, National Reconciliation, and Democratization in Asia” at the United Nations University in Tokyo.

Kishida welcomed the steady progress in the Bangsamoro peace process and the commitment demonstrated by the GPH and MILF, the report said.

He also reiterated Japan’s continued support for the Bangsamoro process and to help spur development in the new autonomous political entity, through initiatives such as J-BIRD Phase II, as pledged by no less than Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his Summit Meeting with President Aquino in Tokyo last 4 June.

Japan is a member of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) and the International Contact Group (ICG) that are assisting the GPH-MILF peace process.

It played a historic role in the history of the peace process by hosting that first meeting between President Aquino and MILF chair Murad on Augut 4, 2011 in Tokyo.

In that two-hour meeting, both parties agreed to fast-track the peace process by signing a peace agreement within the first half of the six-year term of the Aquino administration (2010 to 2013) so that the second half (2013 to 2016) would be spent on implementation.

A second meeting in Japan took place on June 24, 2014, where the two leaders met for “15 to 20 minutes” in Hiroshima, just before the President delivered his keynote address at The Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao seminar.
Accompanied by his peace panel chair, Mohagher Iqbal, Murad raised their “concerns” about the Malacanang-proposed revisions on the draft Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), a copy of which the MILF received a few days earlier.

“Turning point”

The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo’s report said Murad thanked Japan for its role in supporting the process through its membership in the IMT and ICG and for hosting the 2001 meeting which he described as “the turning point” in the peace negotiations.

In his speech at the Consolidation for Peace for Mindanao seminar in Hiroshima a year ago, Aquino also described the 2011 meeting as “the turning point.”

“This meeting happened at a crucial time: Talks with the MILF had reached a difficult standstill, and I had broached the idea of directly meeting with Chairman Murad to move the discussions forward. To their credit, they responded in the affirmative. In hindsight, to us, that was the turning point in our narrative to secure a just and lasting peace. Trust was established between brothers, and genuine dialogue was possible,” he said.

The Philippine Embassy report said that NCMF Secretary Lao highlighted in her speech the decommissioning process for MILF weapons and combatants, with the ceremonial turnover of 55 high-powered firearms and 20 crew-served weapons on June 16 at the gymnasium at the old Maguindanao Capitol.

Lao said the decommissioning happened even as the Bangsamoro Basic Law that would pave the way for the creation of a new autonomous political entity based on the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, is still pending in Congress.

Kishida congratulated the parties for this important step and urged both GPH and MILF “to exercise leadership to sustain the ongoing transition towards the establishment of the Bangsamoro and preserving the gains in the peace process,” the Embassy press release said.

Ambassador Lopez thanked Japan for its reiteration of support to Mindanao, recalling the discussions between President Aquino and PM Abe during the President’s state visit in early June. (MindaNews)

  • Ella Marie

    Interesting to know that even Japan is with us in this peace process. Even more interesting knowing that a lot of countries are open to this idea and are willing to help and support us, yet a lot of people in the Philippines are against it. I would understand if a lot of the people who don’t support the BBL provided us with a better solution. But no, only a few men show solutions to this problem.