Manila raps Japan envoy over remarks

MANILA: Japan's envoy to the Philippines found himself in hot water yesterday after he said security fears were causing him sleepless nights and that the government must plug its gaping budget deficit to attract investors. 

Ambassador Kojiro Takano was summoned to the Department of Foreign Affairs to explain the remarks he made to foreign media on Thursday as some senators called for him to be expelled. 

“The statement ... is an exaggeration with respect to the situation in the Philippines,” Foreign Undersecretary Franklin Ebdalin told reporters.  

Takano avoided journalists after his meeting at the foreign affairs headquarters by slipping out a fire exit. 

“The views expressed by the Japanese ambassador are exaggerated and unfair,” President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said during a speech to a business group here. 

She said Takano had not taken into account the steps taken by her government to improve the economy, tackle crime and battle a host of rebel groups. 

But Arroyo, who is due to visit Japan next week, said her government took “such criticism as a challenge for us to do better.” “Japan has been very helpful to our economy and to the maintenance of law and order. We hope the Japanese ambassador will be able to catch up on his sleep,” she said. 

Takano said a lack of consistency and transparency in Philippine policies and poor infrastructure were also problems that clouded investment prospects. – Reuters 

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