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Philippines, Japan Agrees To Boost Defense Ties Significantly

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(CTN NEWS) – TOKYO – In response to rising tensions in Asia due to China’s expanding influence, the leaders of Japan and the Philippines decided Thursday to significantly strengthen their defense ties, giving Japanese forces broader access to Philippine territory.

Just days after he and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin agreed to provide the United States broader access to Philippine military sites to restrain China’s territorial ambitions, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is in Japan.

Japanese troops could participate in training exercises to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian needs in the Philippines thanks to the defense agreement that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and President Marcos signed.

The agreement might pave the way for similar ones between Japan and other Southeast Asian countries and is considered a first step towards deeper military cooperation.

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. left, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hold their joint press remarks after their talks at prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (Kimimasa Mayama/Pool Photo via AP)

In addition to seeking to increase the transfer of Japanese defense technology and equipment to the Philippines and strengthen trilateral cooperation with the US, Kishida said the two nations would continue discussions to strengthen and streamline their militaries’ joint exercises and other operations.

At a joint press conference with Kishida, Marcos asserted, “After our meeting, I can safely claim that our strategic alliance is stronger than ever as we navigate together the harsh waters buffeting our region.”

“As we continue to deepen and expand our interactions across a wide variety of mutually beneficial cooperation, the future of our relationship remains full of promise.”

According to Japanese officials, the new defense agreement enables Japan to send its troops to the Philippines to assist in humanitarian efforts and disaster relief.

Japan aims to upgrade the agreement to include joint military training, collaboration, and reciprocal visits.

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., second left, and his wife Louise Araneta-Marcos meet Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)

According to a joint statement released later on Thursday, the two presidents “decided” to boost the defense capabilities of their respective nations.

And strengthen global security cooperation through reciprocal port calls, aircraft visits, and more defense technologies and equipment transfer.

It was stated that Japan would give the Philippines access to its air surveillance radar systems and train personnel to use them.

The statement stated that they had “raised significant concerns about the situation in the East and China Seas and strongly opposed the acts involving force or coercion that may increase tensions.”

Kishida and Marcos also decided to improve economic and cyber security.

Additionally, they reaffirmed Japan’s ongoing support for the Philippine coast guard’s capacity-building efforts, particularly the enhancement of port facilities at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval post.

The military and foreign ministries of the two island nations met for the first time last year in four-way security discussions and decided to deepen their defense ties.

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., second left, and his wife Louise Araneta-Marcos meet Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)

In addition to increasing defense expenditure in five years, Kishida’s government authorised significant security and defence enhancements in December, including a counterstrike capacity that departs from Japan’s post-World War II philosophy of self-defense alone.

As part of the new approach, Japan will support developing countries as they improve their marine security and other security capacities. It is intended to balance out China’s expanding regional dominance.

The news conference featured Kishida saying, “President Marcos’s visit here offers us encouragement for Japan and the Philippines to further lift our collaboration to even higher levels as we contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the international community.”

Through March 2024, Kishida announced 600 billion yen ($4.6 billion) in economic assistance from the public and private sectors for the Philippines.

This aid will be used mostly to build commuter rails and respond to natural disasters. The two parties also inked a contract for cooperation in information and communication technology, energy security, and industrial growth.

Heigo Sato, a professor at Takushoku University and a security and defense expert, stated that strengthening cooperation with the Philippines is essential for the security of Japan and the United States when considering the region’s stability.

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Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., left, shakes hands with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito and his wife Louise Araneta-Marcos and Empress Masako look on at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023. (Imperial Household Agency of Japan via AP)

Sea lanes and the deterrence of China’s maritime ambitions.

In a crisis between Taiwan and China, “having access to bases in the Philippines would increase strategic choices for the Japan-U.S. alliance,” he claimed.

In recent years, Japan has strengthened its military connections with Australia, other nations in the Asia-Pacific area, and Europe in addition to its principal ally, the United States.

Before his discussions with Kishida, Marcos visited Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako and extended an invitation to them to visit the Philippines.

Before leaving for home on Sunday, he declared he would participate in negotiations with trade and business representatives from the two sides.


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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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