MANILA -- Japan plans to provide official development assistance (ODA) loans of up to 42.48 billion yen (about PHP20.6 billion) for two infrastructure projects, including upgrading the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 railway in Manila, as it strongly supports the sustainable economic development of the Philippines.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed his country’s intention to extend ODA loan financing, subject to the necessary Japanese and Philippine governments’ approval processes for the projects, during the Japan-Philippines Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held Wednesday in Tokyo.

Kono bared planned total loan provision of up to 38.101 billion Japanese yen for the MRT Line 3 Rehabilitation Project, and provision of up to 4.376 billion yen for the New Bohol Airport Construction and Sustainable Environment Protection Project, to Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.

“Based on this pledge, the Government of Japan and the Government of the Philippines are scheduled to sign exchange of notes concerning the yen loans in the future,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) of Japan said in a statement.

In response to a request from the Philippine government, Japan will provide the funds necessary to rehabilitate the MRT Line-3, the 17-kilometer train running the stretch of EDSA with a total of 13 stations.

Japan will utilize its technology to upgrade the line to quality infrastructure, thereby improving the safety and comfort of the railway.

“It is expected that due to the rehabilitation of the MRT 3 Line, approximately twice as many trains as currently will run appropriately by 2022 (two years after the completion of the project), greatly improving their transport volume, alleviating the serious traffic congestion in Metro Manila, and contributing to the alleviation of air pollution and climate change,” it said.

Likewise, Japan offered additional funds for construction of a new airport in Bohol province in a bid to handle the increasing passenger numbers.

“It is expected that due to the construction of the new Bohol airport, the province will be able to handle nearly three times as many aircraft arrivals and departures as before, improving the convenience and safety of air transportation, and contributing to the revitalization and sustainable growth of the region,” added the MOFA of Japan.

During the fifth meeting of the Japan-Philippines Joint Committee on Infrastructure Development and Economic Cooperation also held Wednesday in Tokyo, participants from two countries discussed approaches to cooperating in order to resolve the major challenges the Philippines is addressing.

These include also the rehabilitation of the MRT-3 Line, the Metro Manila subway project, and other infrastructure development projects, as well as assistance to development in Mindanao based on progress of the peace process.

Infrastructure development in Metro Manila and the regions is among the major fields of cooperation identified under Japan-Philippines joint statement on bilateral cooperation for the next five years.

In the joint statement issued during the visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to Japan last October, the Japanese government would strongly support the sustainable economic development of the Philippines by extending quality infrastructure assistance, utilizing its funding and technology to the maximum extent, for developments under “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.

Other fields of cooperation between the two countries include energy, creation of employment and improvement of living standards, Mindanao, public safety, information and communications, environment, agriculture, and disaster risk reduction. (PNA)