PHILJEC and PJS Host Reception for New BSP Governor Nestor Espenilla, Jr.

The Philippines Japan Economic Cooperation Committee (PHILJEC) and The Philippines Japan Society (PJS) hosted a cocktail reception on July 10, 2017 for new BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr.. Governor Espenilla was a Monbusho Scholar of the Japanese Government from 1986-1988 for his Master in Policy Science degree from Japan’s premier National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).

Japan’s Ambassador to the Philippines, H.E. Kazuhide Ishikawa and Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun Awardee, former Philippine Prime Minister Cesar Virata graced the reception held at the Mayuree 2 Ballroom, Dusit Hotel, Makati City.

PHILJEC Chairman Aniceto G. Saludo and PJS President Francis C. Laurel led their respective organizations during the reception. PHILJEC Co-Chairman Edwin Umali, Co-Chairman Gerry Sanvictores, and PHILJEC Secretary General and PJS Trustee JJ Soriano (also from GRIPS) were also present.

In his speech titled, “The Philippines and Japan: Enhancing Strategic Partnership”, Gov. Espenilla recalled his experiences and insights as a Monbusho scholar 31 years ago.

“What a different world it was in 1986!” exclaimed the Governor. “Yet, despite all these vast changes, the Philippines-Japan Society has been unwavering in its commitment to foster closer ties between our nations – even as early as 1972, when it was formally established! I likewise commend the Philippines-Japan Economic Cooperation Committee for its steadfast initiatives to promote closer economic ties between the Philippines and Japan.”

Another insight Gov. Espenilla shared was his observation about Japanese culture and how it emphasizes cultivating a sense of self vis-à-vis others and society. “I believe this emphasis on harmony and collaboration accounts for our countries’ long-standing relationship. Cooperation between our nations has paved the way for the advancement of our economic and trade relations.”


Under his term as BSP Governor, Gov. Espenilla said that he would ensure that an enabling monetary and financial environment is maintained to achieve the country’s growth objectives, while safeguarding price and financial stability.  He also talked about the increasing presence of foreign banks, in particular 5 Japan-based banks in the Philippines and how this would facilitate the flow of investments, promote trade, support business expansion, and encourage technology transfers, that may lead to more job creation and more productive output. Against this backdrop, Japanese investors in the country can look forward to expanded opportunities for growth and investments.   


Read the full speech of Gov. Espenilla here.

New NCF-PIJLC Brochures Highlight Japanese Language Courses for Individual and Corporate Clients

NCF and PILC have just released their new brochures detailing different courses for both individual students and corporate clients.

For individual students, regular courses cover Basic Japanese 1 (total beginner) to Intermediate level Japanese. There are also Conversation courses for those who wish to focus on speaking skills only.

Other special courses for individuals include One-on-One Tutorials, Conversation Business Japanese, and JLPT Review classes among others.

For companies or corporate clients, NCF offers Intensive Courses to bring the Japanese level of students from total beginner to intermediate level in as short as 4 months. NCF Manila also has the PJAC Dormitory that serves as the students “home away from home”. The dorm has 24-hour security and spacious rooms so students can fully concentrate on their Nihongo studies.

For more information and to download the new brochures click the links below:

NCF-PIJLC Brochure – Individual Students

NCF-PIJLC Brochure – Corporate Clients


109 Filipino Nurses and Caregivers Complete Preparatory Japanese Language Program at NCF

On May 19, 2017, the 9th batch of Filipino nurses and certified care workers completed their preparatory Japanese language training at the Nihongo Center Foundation under the Philippines-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). With a closing ceremony held at the President Jose P. Laurel Memorial Hall of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Center in Manila, the 6-month long program successfully produced 315 graduates. Other participants finished their training at TESDA and the Personal Ability Development Foundation (PAD), two other partner institutions for the training program organized together with the Japan Foundation Manila Office (JFMO).

In his opening remarks, JFMO Director, Mr. Hiroaki Uesugi not only gave his sincerest appreciation for the participants’ positive participation and determined efforts, but also thanked the energetic and ceaseless efforts and teamwork of the lecturers and staff members who made sure that the program was at its best. He also encouraged the trainees to think positively and hoped that they will overcome the challenges they may face once they start living, studying, and working in Japan.

Honorable guests Mr. Philip B. Sanvictores, NCF President; Mr. Roberto L. Larga, Director IV, Welfare and Employment Office, P.O.E.A; and Mr. Manabu Yasukawa, First Secretary, Labour Attaché, Embassy of Japan all gave their congratulatory remarks during the program.

This is probably the very first baby steps that you will be taking in your journey of learning Nihongo.” said Mr. Sanvictores. He continued:

When you start off in Japan, please remember that you have a role to play. First you have to be good workers. Secondly, you have to recognize that you are also representing our country, our people, and our soul as Filipinos and our reputations. Please be careful to make sure that the Japanese, your superiors, your patients, the people you work with – they will all be blessed through you because you are doing your job well and the fundamental foundation of that will be language. That is why this is a unique opportunity for each and every one of you to make that step in to a new environment where you are actually going to be a blessing.”

Mr. Manabu Yasukawa commended the participants for their hard work and dedication and echoed the message of the NCF President about the importance of language, specifically mentioning self-discipline and its role in language learning:

“I would like to emphasize the importance of self-discipline in learning the language. We may give you long and intensive training, but without self- discipline, retention might be difficult. You must continue to study everyday even after the training which you will have in the coming months in Japan.”

To address the apprehensions of the graduates about being away from loved ones and being in a different environment, Mr. Yasukawa encouraged them to look at it from another perspective.

“Take advantage of this opportunity to enjoy the sights, food, festivals, and the varied seasons of Japan. Learn about its culture, and build lasting friendships with the people you will meet there. I believe the Japanese are very kind, surely they will appreciate the friendship you will extend to them. I am also certain your respective employers, patients, and caregiving facility residents are looking forward to meeting you and experience the distinct care of Filipinos.”

After the congratulatory remarks, Mr. Uesugi presented the Certificate of Completion to the class representatives and was followed by a message from Ms. Mary Ann Borja, Representative of the Candidates.

To further give support and encouragement to the Japan-bound health workers, Head Leacturer, Josef Carlo Orillo-sensei recalled the first few months of their training:

“At the start of your training, I talked about how a common language becomes a bridge between people of different countries. It is a medium for the sharing of ideas and feelings, a method by which we can learn that despite our differences – the gap of cultures and nations – we all share the same basic needs and wants, thoughts and passions as people.”

For the next months to follow in Japan, he encouraged the trainees to keep on improving their Nihongo:

“Having completed your training, you now have this bridge, this tool for connecting with another person. When you go to Japan, use it, practice it, improve more and more, not only for your work and the eventual goal of passing the licensure exam, but also enrich your relationships with your co-workers and friends.”

The successful trainees will continue another six months of training at a Japanese language institute in Japan before finally getting assigned to hospitals and caregiving facilities all over the country.  After building up on their experiences, the nurse and care worker candidates will be required to take the Japanese national examination for nurses or certified care workers, based on which their work in Japan would continue.


Related Resources:

Speech by Mr. Manabu Yasukawa, First Secretary, Embassy of Japan
Speech by Mr. Philip B. Sanvictores, NCF President
Speech by Josef Orillo Sensei, Head Lecturer
Speech by Mary Ann E. Borja, EPA Candidate
Opening Remarks by Mr. Hiroaki Uesugi, JFMO Director
Photos – Closing Ceremony, 9th Batch of EPA Graduates

PJFF Chairman Joey Laurel Is New PH Ambassador to Japan

Deferentially addressed as “Governor” – he was Provincial Governor of Batangas from 1980 to 1988 – Jose “Joey” C. Laurel V is also an accomplished business executive and acclaimed civic leader, with extensive involvement in Japanese affairs and relations.  

On September 16, 2016 President Rodrigo R. Duterte appointed Governor “Joey” to be the Philippines’ Ambassador to Japan, then asked him, as Ambassador-designate, to be part of the Presidential Delegation when he made his first State Visit to Japan on October 25-27, 2106. Then, on December 7, 2016, the bi-cameral Commission on Appointments speedily and unanimously confirmed his appointment and on April 5, 2017, he officially began his tenure as Philippine Ambassador-designate to Japan.

On June 9, 2017, H.E. Jose C. Laurel V presented his credentials as the Philippine Ambassador to Japan to His Majesty Emperor Akihito, in formal rites held at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The official photo of Ambassador Laurel V presenting his credentials to the Emperor is a poignant image of a life journey destined towards a pivotal role in Philippines-Japan relations. It marks a new milestone in the generations-long association of the Laurel Family with Japan.  

The new Ambassador first set foot in Japan as a toddler when the Laurel family was exiled to Nara as Japanese forces were retreating from the Philippines.  A grandson of Jose P. Laurel, President of the Second Philippine Republic (1943-1945), he and his elder brother Tony had to be brought to Japan by their parents, Jose III and Beatriz (Betty) with the rest of the Laurel family as innocent exiles.  Joey was not even 2-years old.  

Some twenty years thereafter, in 1965, his father was designated Philippine Ambassador to Japan who served until 1971.  Ambassador Jose S. Laurel III, the quintessential Filipino diplomat to Japan, lived an extraordinary life deeply immersed in Japan and its people: he was the only Filipino and one of just a few foreigners to graduate from the elite Japanese Imperial Military Academy (陸軍士官学校) in 1937; a Filipino patriot who served before, during and after the war with his own life; Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Philippines to Japan; founder and principal architect of the Philippines-Japan Society and its network of organizations dedicated to the promotion of  peace, friendship and cooperation between the Philippines and Japan.  

It was therefore natural for the children of Ambassador Laurel III to gravitate towards Philippines-Japan affairs, themselves becoming active advocates of the principles and aspirations of their father. Following the footsteps of his illustrious father as Philippine Ambassador to Japan, the first son called to serve in the same post as his father, Ambassador Joey Laurel is not only eminently qualified and extensively connected in Japanese business and official circles, perhaps most importantly, he is now a lead bearer of his forebears’ unsullied reputation and, especially that of his father, Jose III, in Japan.

On his own, Ambassador Laurel V has gained prominence in the country’s business and civic circles.  He has held top management positions in many large companies, including among others, Toyota Batangas City, Inc., YKK Philippines, Transworld Trading Co., Inc., Philippine Petrochemical Products, Asian Chemical Corporation, and the Lyceum Press.  Besides his Chairmanship of the Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation, he is an Adviser to the Philippines-Japan Society, Trustee of the Philippine Institute of Japanese Language & Culture and the Nihongo Center Foundation, former Chairman of the Philippine Red Cross (Batangas Chapter), and was a member of the Rotary Club and Lions Club of Batangas, Knights of Rizal and Manila Jaycees Senate.

Ambassador Laurel V obtained two degrees from the De La Salle University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Salutatorian) and Bachelor of Arts in Social Studies.  He completed is Masters in Business Administration also at the De La Salle University and is a Master of Graphic Arts under the Dai Nippon Printing Group, Tokyo, Japan.  

At the onset of his Ambassadorship, he said, “My role in Japan is to continuously improve closer relationships with the Japanese, not necessarily お金だけ(okane dake)’ but real 心と心(kokoro to kokoro)’ understanding,”. Already a public servant in his younger days (as Governor of Batangas), Ambassador Laurel V is the latest member of the famed Laurel family to continue their legacy of service to God, country and people:


  • Jose P. Laurel – President of the Second Philippine Republic (1943-1945); jurist, nationalist, patriot
  • Jose B. Laurel, Jr. – Speaker of the House of Representatives (1967-1971)
  • Jose S. Laurel, III – Philippine Ambassador to Japan (1966-1971); founder and President Emeritus, The Philippines-Japan Society and its affiliate organizations
  • Sotero H. Laurel – Senator of the Republic of the Philippines (1987-992); educator
  • Salvador H. Laurel – Senator; Vice-President of the Republic of the Philippines (1986-1992)
  • Jose Macario B. Laurel IV – Ambassador to Brazil
  • Beatriz Castillo-Laurel† – Founding President, Philippines-Japan Ladies Association; member, Philippines-Japan Friendship Foundation
  • Francis C. Laurel – President, Philippines-Japan Society; former Chairman, Philippines-Japan Economic Cooperation Committee (PHILJEC); Regent – University of the Philippines; businessman
  • Benjamin C. Laurel – President, Philippine Federation of Japan Alumni (PHILFEJA); Governor & Chairman ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA); Chairman, Asia Japan Alumni (ASJA) International

As Philippines-Japan relations chart an even closer, friendlier strategic partnership in all aspects of geopolitics, trade, investments, security, culture and arts, people-to-people exchange, Ambassador Jose “Joey” C. Laurel V – along with the professional corps comprising the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo – faces the enormous challenge of serving as the country’s top diplomat in Japan, and lead bilateral efforts in bringing the two countries’ durable relations to the next higher level.  



Related Resources:

Amb. Jose Laurel V – photos

Amb. Jose Laurel V – Official CV

PJS To Confer Medal of Merit Upon PM Yasuo Fukuda

In recognition of his outstanding achievements in promoting not only Philippines-Japan but also Japan-ASEAN and intraregional relations, The Philippines-Japan Society will confer the Medal of Merit upon the Honorable Yasuo Fukuda, former Prime Minister of Japan, during the 39th PJS Friendship Dinner and Awards Night on July 21, 2017 to be held at the Makati Shangril-La.

He assumed office in September 2007 when Shinzo Abe suddenly resigned as Japan’s Prime Minister. Mr. Yasuo Fukuda is Japan’s 91st Prime Minister and the first to follow his father, 67th PM Takeo Fukuda, to Japan’s top post. Prior to his role as Prime Minister, Mr. Fukuda had taken on important positions in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as Director of the Foreign Affairs Division, Deputy Secretary-General, and Chairman of the Finance Committee. From 2000 to 2004, he served as the Chief Cabinet Secretary of Prime Ministers Yoshiro Mori and Junichiro Koizumi, the longest tenure by anyone who has held the position.

As a leader, he is known to work quietly and skillfully without fanfare and controversy and pursued trailblazing policies such as the creation of sustainable societies, the designation of Eco-Model Cities, and a shift to people-centered political and administrative processes. His foreign policy advocacies were also in line with the “Fukuda Doctrine” also known as “Kokoro-to-Kokoro” or “Heart-to-Heart” that was first pronounced by his father in Manila in August 1977, and which committed Japan to peace, close economic partnership and diplomatic cooperation in Asia.

It is no surprise; therefore, that Mr. Fukuda is a champion of the ASEAN Economic Community and has continuously recognized the significant role of Japan alumni in ASEAN international cooperation and regional solidarity by strongly supporting the ASEAN Council of Japan Alumni (ASCOJA) and making it a point to meet with former students in Japan from these countries.  

Mr. Fukuda attended the prestigious Azabu High School and graduated from the Faculty of Economics of Waseda University in 1959. He currently serves as Chairman of the Boao Forum for Asia and holds leadership posts at international organizations that promote friendship and cooperation, including the Northeast Asia Trilateral Forum.

The Medal of Merit is the highest award that the Philippine-Japan Society bestows to outstanding individuals who have greatly contributed in improving and promoting relations between the two countries.