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Philippines and Japan Sign Major Defence Pact

by Rahil M
0 comment

The Philippines intends to pursue a similar agreement with France and already has one with the US and Australia.

In the face of escalating tensions in the Indo-Pacific, the Philippines and Japan have achieved a significant milestone in their security relations by signing a reciprocal access agreement (RAA) that permits them to station troops on each other’s territory, an official announced on Monday.

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Garafil said in a message that the agreement was signed in a ceremony in Manila with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. present by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Gilberto Teodoro of the Philippines.

For example, the agreement established a framework for military cooperation, easing the visiting force’s access to foreign troops and equipment.

According to officials, the agreement – the first of its sort inked by Japan in Asia – would become operative following ratification by the legislatures of both nations.

In the South China Sea, where Beijing’s vast maritime claims clash with those of several Southeast Asian countries, Manila may be able to oppose Chinese influence with the support of a Japanese military presence in the Philippines.

Beijing disputes a 2016 international tribunal’s decision that China’s claims lacked legal support.

In the midst of protracted disagreements over maritime sovereignty, both the Philippines and Japan have adopted a firm stance against what they perceive to be hostile behaviour by Chinese warships.

Longtime friends of the US, which has been fortifying its relationships from Canberra to Tokyo to confront China’s expanding military force and influence in the area, are Japan and the Philippines.

The US is allegedly attempting to establish an Asia-Pacific branch of NATO, according to Chinese authorities.

The RAA was signed at a time when concerns about a possible conflict that would involve the US are heightened by China’s increasing sabre-rattling towards Taiwan and over the South China Sea.

Although China and Japan have a distinct maritime conflict in the East China Sea, where they have frequently engaged in combat, Japan does not have any claims to the South China Sea.

Reversing its post-war pacifism, Japan announced in December 2023, its largest build-up since World War two. Tokyo is concerned about China’s actions, particularly its pressure on Taiwan, its freedom of navigation, and trade conflicts, therefore it has worked to fortify defence links with other countries.

In the South China Sea, Japan has backed the Philippines’ stance and voiced grave concerns about China’s conduct, particularly the recent incidents that damaged Philippine warships and injured a Filipino sailor.

The US and Australia have a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the Philippines. Tokyo, the location of the largest American military base overseas, is now negotiating an RAA with France and has comparable agreements with Australia and Britain.

In an effort to strengthen partner nations’ deterrent capacities, Japan has consented to supply the Philippines with coastal surveillance radars as the first collaborative project under its Official Security Assistance program.

Similar reciprocal access agreements have been inked by Tokyo recently with Australia and Britain.

The Philippines intends to pursue a similar agreement with France and already has one with the US and Australia.

An export embargo on deadly equipment is a self-imposed restriction on the extent of Japanese military assistance.

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