Japan has expressed willingness to provide help in the trilateral cooperation between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia in dealing with piracy and terrorism in their shared maritime areas.
Japanese Vice Minister for International Affairs Ro Manabe extended the offer during the 5th Philippine-Japan Vice Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo on February 10, the Department of National Defense (DND) said. Japan asked the Philippines on how it could best help in fighting the twin problems as a surge in piracy in parts of the Southern Philippines forces ship owners to redirect vessels through other waters. A lot of sailors have been taken captive by Abu Sayaff,
According to a statement from the DND, Manabe also assured the Philippines of his country’s support for its chairmanship of this year’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The Japanese official reiterated Japan’s willingness to promote defense cooperation with ASEAN member states.
“Japan is ready to pursue deeper defense cooperation with the Philippines through exchanges and defense equipment transfer, according to the vice-minister,” the DND said.
Part of Japan’s contribution to the capability upgrade of Philippine defense forces is the lease of five TC-90 aircraft for maritime surveillance. Likewise, Japan has also provided capacity building assistance in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David Jr. stressed the need for the Philippines and Japan to complete a status of visiting forces agreement as the latter is willing to undertake joint exercises.
It has also assured the Philippines that it will continue to share timely information specifically violations of the rule of law in the disputed South China Sea (SCS) in reference to the decision issued by Permanent Court of Arbitration on July 2016.
In the past, Japan has also helped the Philippines in its war against drugs by sending a team to the country to conduct a five day study on ways to cooperate with the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte.