TOKYO ( Associated Press) – Japan and the Philippines agreed on Saturday to begin talks toward a potential defense deal that would allow closer cooperation between their forces amid territorial tensions with China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and their Philippine counterparts, Teodoro Loxin and Delphine Lorenzana, at their first so-called “2+2” security meeting agreed to begin formal discussions about a possible mutual access agreement – a Defense pact that will allow its troops to visit each other’s countries for training and exchange defense equipment to enhance interoperability and cooperation.
Japan and the Philippines, both US allies, have increased joint exercises and defense cooperation in recent years. In 2020, Tokyo and Manila agreed to export Japanese air radar systems to the Philippine Army.
On Saturday, the four ministers strongly opposed actions that “could increase tension” in the East and South China Seas and reaffirmed their commitment to a rules-based approach to resolving competing claims under international law. He also said that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine affects not only Europe but also Asia under an international system that does not accept any unilateral changes in internationally recognized borders by force.
Although it was implied that China was his main concern, he carefully avoided identifying that country by name.
“We have agreed to look into the possibility of furthering our defense cooperation and activities, and to explore ways to conduct capacity and capacity building activity,” Lorenzana said at a joint news conference after the talks. The time has come to address issues of mutual concern.
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 agreement with Australia – the first such agreement for Canberra, apart from the United States, which is Japan’s only ally.
In recent years, Japan has expanded security talks and joint exercises with the US and other partners, sharing its concerns about China’s claims to its territorial claims in the region, the world’s busiest. Some of the sea lanes are home.
Japan is particularly concerned about Chinese military and coast guard activity in the East China Sea near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have been locked in an increasingly tense regional standoff in a busy waterway in the South China Sea for decades.
A day after Chinese President Xi Jinping told outgoing Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte that Beijing and Manila have handled their South China Sea disputes properly and that “regional security cannot be achieved by strengthening military alliances” Japan and the Philippines signed Saturday’s agreement. Official Xinhua News Agency.