Comments to the Japan-U.S.-Philippines Summit


On April 8, 2024, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan visited the United States, held a tripartite meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of the Philippines on the 11th local time, and announced a joint statement, “Joint Vision Statement by the Japan-Philippines and U.S. Leaders" (1).

The statement touched on cooperation in renewable energy, it also promoted nuclear power, particularly small nuclear reactors. The three countries also plan to deepen cooperation in the field of mineral resources.

In the Philippines, NuScale, an American start-up company in which JBIC and IHI-JGC Holdings have invested, is considering the construction of a so-called “next-generation” nuclear power plant called the “Small Modular Reactor (SMR),"(2) but like normal nuclear power plants such as radioactive waste. SMRs are no different from conventional nuclear power plants in that they have problems such as radioactive contamination over their life cycle, nuclear waste, accident risk, and the risk of becoming targets of terrorism and war. 

Last November, NuScale Power, a U.S.-based company, has announced the cancellation of its plan to build a small nuclear reactor in Idaho. The reason behind this cancellation was SMRs were very expensive and not competitive with cheap renewable energy. (3)

Kanna Mitsuta, Executive Director of FoE Japan, said “Selling expensive SMRs to the Phillippines is nothing but for the profit of the nuclear industry in Japan and the U.S., not for people in the Phillippines. Even if SMRs are successfully built, it will leave huge risks and debt and nuclear waste to the future generation of the Phillippines.

The statement also emphasized the cooperation in critical minerals. The Philippines is a supplier of nickel for making batteries. Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines have already been severely affected by nickel-related developments, being evicted from their ancestral lands and having their traditional ways of life disrupted.

Hozue Hatae, Development and Human Rights Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Japan says “There have been extrajudicial killings and intimidation of Indigenous persons who have tried to raise their voices to protect their lands and livelihoods. It should be recognized that the foundations for securing Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) have been seriously eroded in the Philippines. The same problems already exist in connection with the nickel that Sumitomo Metal Mining produces in the Philippines in partnership with Nickel Asia Corporation and supplies via Panasonic to Tesla. In accordance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the governments of the three countries must not forget their state duty to protect the human rights of those who are trying to protect their livelihoods from nickel mining developments. As countries try to promote an energy transition, they must avoid creating other sacrifices.”

The recent summit among the three countries took up the just energy transition, mentioning the need to harness critical minerals industries in order to produce clean energy. We are very disturbed by this development as it will further intensify the extraction of nickel from the province of Palawan where biodiversity, forest and  wildlife are still relatively rich and abundant. Just energy transition is a narrative that has to be deliberated upon by local communities, especially by indigenous peoples, farmers and future communities directly affected by extractive activities, deforestation, and displacement. Loss of livelihood, loss of biodiversity, pollution of water and air are among the problems that the local communities of Palawan have been facing, and these are issues that the Philippine government should take cognizance of before they proceed with their grand plan to push for just energy transition and the development of clean energy,” said Gerthie Mayo-Anda, Executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC), Inc., with whom FoE Japan has worked on the issues of nickel mining development in Palawan Island, Philippines.

  1. “Joint Vision Statement from the Leaders of Japan, the Philippines, and the United States”, 11th April 2024
  2. Nikkei, “Japan, U.S. and the Phillippines to create a supply chain for nuclear and semiconductors, with worry over China”, 12th April 2024
  3. NuScale’s plan for a small nuclear reactor, funded by JBIC, is cancelled, questioning the accountability of public financial institutions”, 13th Nov 2023



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