Japan and the Philippines seek agreement to enhance defense cooperation

TOKYO (AP) — Japan and the Philippines agreed on Saturday to start talks for a possible defense deal that would see closer cooperation between their militaries amid regional tensions with China and the Russian invasion. from Ukraine.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and their Filipino counterparts Teodoro Locsin and Delfin Lorenzana at their first so-called “2+2” security meeting agreed to start formal talks on a possible reciprocal access agreement – ​​a defense pact that would allow their troops to travel to the respective countries to train and exchange defense equipment to increase interoperability and cooperation.

Japan and the Philippines, both allies of the United States, have intensified joint exercises and defense cooperation in recent years. In 2020, Tokyo and Manila agreed to export Japanese airborne radar systems to the Philippine military.

On Saturday, the four ministers strongly opposed “actions that could increase tensions” in the East and South China Seas and affirmed their commitment to a rules-based approach to resolving competing claims under the international law. They also said that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine affects not only Europe but also Asia within the framework of the international order, which does not accept any unilateral modification of internationally recognized borders by force.

Although it was implied that China was their primary concern, they carefully avoided identifying that country by name.

“We agreed that it was time to examine the possibility of further expanding our cooperation and defense activities” and to explore ways of carrying out capacity and capacity building activities “to solve the problems of common interest,” Lorenzana told a joint press conference after the talks.

Kishi said the first “2+2” meeting marks “the beginning of the two countries’ efforts to further deepen their security ties.”

In January, Japan signed a defense cooperation pact with Australia – the first such agreement for Canberra other than with the United States, which is Japan’s only ally.

In recent years, Japan has greatly expanded security talks and joint exercises with the United States and other partners who share its concerns about China’s assertion of its territorial claims in the region, which is home to some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.

Japan is particularly concerned about Chinese military and coastguard activity in the East China Sea near the Japanese-held Senkaku Islands, which China claims and also calls Diaoyu.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have been locked in an increasingly tense territorial stalemate in the busy South China Sea waterway for decades.

Saturday’s agreement between Japan and the Philippines came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping told outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Beijing and Manila had properly handled their differences in the South China Sea and that “regional security cannot be achieved by strengthening military alliances,” according to China. official Xinhua news agency.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.