Japan’s failure to condemn Duterte’s drug war is not helping anyone
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Japan’s failure to condemn Duterte’s drug war is not helping anyone

JAPAN has been offering up vocal support and financial aid to the Philippine government despite the “rampant extrajudicial executions” being carried out as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, and this has to stop according to Human Rights Watch.

Fearing that it is just “business as usual” between Japan and the Philippines, Phelim Kine, deputy director of the international rights group’s Asia division, is urging Japan “do better” in their relationship with Duterte and adopt a tougher stance.

“There have been plenty of opportunities to do so,” Kine said in a statement Friday.

As examples, Kine points out Japan Vice-Minister of Defense for International Affairs Ro Manabe’s endorsement of the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) in 2017, highlighting his disappointment that Manabe “offered up this plum support without reference to the rampant extrajudicial executions.”

He also references Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to the Philippines in January of this year and the raft of financial aid that sprung from it.

SEE ALSO: Bearing aid gift, Japan’s Abe visits Philippines as Duterte’s first top guest

“For the further development of the Philippines, we will create business opportunities through ODA (official development assistance) and private sector investments which together will be of the order of 1 trillion yen (US$8.8 bil) over the next five years,” Abe announced after holding summit talks with Duterte.

In the same meeting, the two nations agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on drug rehabilitation efforts.

“On countering illegal drugs, we want to work together with the Philippines through relevant measures of support,” Abe said, adding he will “encourage Japanese private sector to assist in the improvement of drug treatment facilities, formulation of treatment programs and other areas.”

Despite the reference to drug rehabilitation, Abe failed to make any reference and its “brutal cost in lives and the impact on affected families, Kine said.

“Heaping prestige and development assistance on the Philippines without insisting on human rights concessions is not only a wasted opportunity, it doubtlessly gives encouragement.”

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Funeral workers use a stretcher to transfer a body to a waiting van, after what police said was a drug-related vigilante killing, in Caloocan city, Metro Manila, Philippines February 2, 2017. Source: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

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Kine’s concern is that the Philippines will be empowered by the lack of criticism from Japan. And he believes that this is unacceptable with a government that has such a regressive view towards the victims of the drug killings.

“The criminals, the drug lords, drug pushers, they are not humanity. They are not humanity,” Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told reporters, sweeping aside accusations that police killings of thousands of drug suspects may be crimes against humanity.

Since Duterte entered office in June, more than 7,000 people have been killed in his war on drugs, some half of which at the hands of the police and the remaining number by vigilante groups.

Kine feels that Japan needs to take a more concerted and direct effort to confront Duterte on his bloody campaign.

“It (Japan) needs to make clear that unless Duterte decisively ends the killings and prosecutes those responsible, he risks a suspension of Japanese financial aid, training programs, and equipment sales to the Philippine National Police.”

Rather than pandering to his controversial policies, Kine feels it will be more beneficial to all if Japan took a tougher stance.

“Japan should be a true friend of the Philippines, and condemn Duterte’s “drug war,” not condone it.”