Some Thursday ASEAN links:
More than half a century after the Second World War, Japan has deployed 1,200 members of its Self-Defense Force (SDF) to the Philippines. But this time, rather than playing the role of aggressor, Japan has instead launched its biggest humanitarian aid mission in history.
Additionally, the Japanese government has announced $20 million in emergency aid to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines, as well as promising 10 coastguard vessels to Manila to help the capital guard its coastlines. These moves represent the largest overseas deployment in the SDF’s history and strengthening ties between the Philippines and Japan.
“The two liberal democracies are treaty-allies of the United States, and Japan is one of only two strategic partners of the Philippines. Both are facing territorial threats from Beijing, and Manila does not share the concerns of some Asian nations, notably China and South Korea, about Tokyo returning to past military adventurism. While Japan is a formidable economic power in the region, the Philippines has emerged as Southeast Asia’s fastest growing major economy,” said East Asia Forum.
Japan’s hefty contributions, aside from projecting soft power near the heavily disputed South China Sea, dwarf China’s less than $2 million pledge. Beijing has been sharply criticized for its lack of aid to Leyte Island.
Elsewhere in the Philippines, a lawyer for Manny Pacquaio has filed a motion to lift a freeze on the superstar boxer’s bank accounts. Though Pacquiao is one of the highest paid athletes on the planet, the Bureau of Internal Revenue alleges that he failed to pay more than $50 million in back taxes.
Pacquiao, who is also a congressional representative in Sarangani, claims that his total assets and net worth amount to just over $40 million. He is especially incensed over the freeze because it has delayed his ability to make donations to super typhoon Yolanda victims.
“There are many crooks in the government whose bank accounts and properties were not subjected to garnishment. I have absorbed many blows just to earn money and give pride to the nation, but this is what happened,” Pacquiao told The Inquirer. “I could not withdraw a single [cent] from my own money. I could not use my money to help especially those who are victims of the calamity.”
The boxer has since borrowed money from friends in order to keep his promise of providing financial aid.
Over in Singapore, an index created by a French business school ranked the country second in the world for “competitiveness in attracting, producing and retaining talent.” It was the only Asian country to land in the top 20.
“These results, when compared to the respective income levels of those Asian countries, call for cautious optimism about their future talent equation,” read a press release from the Global Talent Competitiveness Index at Insead.
Switzerland topped the list, with Japan – the next Asian country on the list – ranking 21st.