12/18/2023, 14.56
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The Philippines and Japan to boost maritime defences against China

by Stefano Vecchia

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida finalised the details of a military cooperation agreement in the South China Sea. Talks began last month. Meanwhile, China still claims much of the economic zones that belong to the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.


Manila (AsiaNews) – A two-day summit marking 50 years of friendship and cooperation between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) ended today in Tokyo.

The meeting also saw the Philippine and Japanese governments make further progress in terms of defence cooperation.

Yesterday, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held direct talks to better define the path towards a swift conclusion of a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA).

The pact will enable the two countries to send troops to each other’s territories, engage in joint exercises, and boost cooperation between their respective coast guards.

China has undertaken initiatives in maritime areas of vital strategic importance considered by the Philippines as within its own exclusive economic zone.

Beijing has in fact built military infrastructure, started seabed prospecting, and blocked the transit of Philippine ships, despite official protests from Manila and complaints by relevant international authorities.

RAA talks began officially last month with Kishida's visit to Manila. Deemed of "extreme significance” by Marcos “in terms of not only security but also in terms of disaster preparedness and alleviation,” the pact would see Japan setup a coastal radar control system, which is part of its Official Security Assistance (OSA) programme.

Under a memorandum of cooperation between the two coast guards, Japan is also proposing to boost maritime safety capacity to ensure greater security on the seas.

The important deal follows the recently renewed agreements between the Philippines and the United States allowing the latter to expand its presence in the Southeast Asian country to conduct joint maritime patrols with Philippine forces and train local military personnel.

The Philippines have also undertaken more bilateral initiatives with the navies of other countries to ensure the free transit of goods in a region that is essential for world trade.

Based on maps that are not internationally recognised, China is assertively claiming as part of its economic zone, areas that belong to Southeast Asian countries.

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