Japan Offers Blueprint for Ex-U.S. Naval Base in Philippines
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence delivers a speech to military personnel on the flight deck of the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photographer: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Pool via Bloomberg)

Japan Offers Blueprint for Ex-U.S. Naval Base in Philippines

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(Bloomberg) -- Japan will create the blueprint to redevelop a former U.S. naval base in northern Philippines that has also attracted interest from China.

Subic Bay, once the largest American naval base outside the U.S., will be developed through a master plan crafted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said during his bilateral meeting with Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Manila on Thursday.

Japan Offers Blueprint for Ex-U.S. Naval Base in Philippines

The Japanese agency signed the agreement in December to provide technical support for the Philippine government’s push to revive Subic Bay in Zambales province, with knowledge-based industries, logistics terminals, public utilities and road networks identified as possible industries to grow the local economy.

China has similarly been lured to the area, financing a 50-billion-peso ($987 million), 71-kilometer (44 mile) freight rail connecting Subic Bay to Clark Freeport, also a former U.S. military base. Chinese investors were also interested to take over Hanjin Heavy Industries Construction Co. Ltd.’s facilities, located near the disputed South China Sea.

Despite the Philippines’ growing closeness with China under President Rodrigo Duterte, Japan has remained the country’s top source of official development assistance. It has signed 10 loan agreements so far to support Duterte’s big-ticket infrastructure projects, and Dominguez said there were more opportunities for funding and technical support as the government’s so-called “Build, Build, Build” program picks up this year.

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