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Japan and the Philippines Sign a Defense Pact | Mio Kitchen

11 Juli 2024

Japan can now deploy its forces to Philippines under Reciprocal Access Agreement (photo: AFP)

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Japan and the Philippines signed a key defense pact Monday allowing the deployment of Japanese forces for joint drills in the Southeast Asian nation that came under Japanese occupation in World War II but is now building an alliance with Tokyo as both face an increasingly assertive China.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement, which similarly allows Filipino forces to enter Japan for joint combat training, was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa in a Manila ceremony witnessed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. It would take effect after ratification by the countries’ legislatures, Philippine and Japanese officials said.

The defense pact with the Philippines, which includes live-fire drills, is the first to be forged by Japan in Asia. Japan signed similar accords with Australia in 2022 and with Britain in 2023.

Under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Japan has taken steps to boost its security and defensive firepower, including a counterstrike capability that breaks from the country’s postwar principle of focusing only on self-defense. It’s doubling defense spending in a five-year period to 2027 to bolster its military power and make Japan the world’s third-biggest military spender after the United States and China.

Kishida’s moves dovetail with Marcos’ effort to forge security alliances to bolster the Philippine military’s limited ability to defend its territorial interests in the South China Sea.

The United States has also been strengthening an arc of military alliances in the Indo-Pacific to better counter China, including in any future confrontation over Taiwan, and reassure its Asian allies. Japan and the Philippines are treaty allies of the U.S. and their leaders held three-way talks in April at the White House, where President Joe Biden renewed Washington’s “ironclad” commitment to defend Japan and the Philippines.

Japan has had a longstanding territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea. Chinese and Philippine coast guard and navy ships, meanwhile, have been involved in a series of tense confrontations in the South China Sea since last year.

Japan and the United States were among the first to express alarm over the Chinese actions and call on Beijing to abide by international laws. Washington is obligated to defend the Philippines, its oldest treaty ally in Asia, if Filipino forces, ships and aircraft come under an armed attack, including in the South China Sea.

See full article AP

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