Department of Foreign Affairs said that The Philippines and Japan have agreed to further improve their joint cooperation on “shared regional strategic concerns,” including maritime security. This developed following Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario’s meetings with his Japanese counterpart Koichiro Gemba, and Deputy Prime Minister Katsura Okada during the DFA head’s official visit to Tokyo last week.
In Philippine Daily Inquirer, Del Rosario said that aside from the United States, three other countries – Japan, South Korea and Australia – were helping the Philippines establish a minimum reliable defense posture to complement its diplomatic capacity in dealing with its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine Sea (South China). He revealed that the Tokyo government would likely provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 12 patrol boats. “They’re considering 10 40-meter boats on official development aid and two larger ones as grants,” said Del Rosario.
The foreign office said “the two ministers engaged in comprehensive discussions reviewing key aspects of relations and affirmed their respective governments’ commitments to advancing the multifaceted bilateral relations on the two countries’ shared values and long history of cooperation.”
DFA added that “Talks centered on the enhancement of political dialogue, economic cooperation, official development assistance, and business-to-business and people-to-people ties, as well as on the furtherance of bilateral cooperation on shared regional strategic concerns, including maritime safety and disaster risk reduction”. However, the foreign office did not provide details about the two officials’ dialogue on maritime security-related matters.
The head of the embassy’s chancery, Minister Shinsuke Shimizu told this paper Tokyo would continue to help the Coast Guard deal with its maritime safety and law enforcement concerns. However, Shimizu clarified “it is of different nature from establishing the minimum credible defense capabilities” of the Philippines. “Nor is it aimed at addressing a specific regional situation,” said the diplomat. He was apparently referring to the Scarborough Shoal dispute between Manila and Beijing. He noted that “since 1990, Japan has been helping the Coast Guard in its capacity-building program.”