Home Asia Philippines And Japan Sign Defence Agreement Marking Milestone In Their Relationship

Philippines And Japan Sign Defence Agreement Marking Milestone In Their Relationship

Philippine President
Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr in Manila (Photo: Reuters)

The Philippines and Japan signed an agreement allowing them to deploy their forces on each other’s soil, a milestone in their security relations amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, presidential communications secretary Cheloy Garafil said in message on Monday.

The reciprocal access agreement (RAA) was signed by Philippine defence minister Gilberto Teodoro and Japan foreign minister Yoko Kamikawa, in a ceremony witnessed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr at the presidential palace on Monday.

It will take effect after ratification by the legislatures of the Philippines and Japan.

The RAA creates a framework to facilitate military cooperation, such as making the entry of foreign personnel and equipment easier for the visiting force.

It is the first defence agreement for Japan in Asia. It had signed similar accords with Australia in 2022, and Britain last year.

Although Japan’s colonial occupation of Southeast Asia in the last century triggers resentment and suspicion even now, Tokyo and Manila have steadily deepened their defence relationship.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s move dovetails with Philippine President Marcos’ efforts to beef up his military to defend its territorial  interests in the South China Sea. It’s a heavily travelled passage, a crucial global trade route claimed entirely by China but contested by others including the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Taiwan.

The US has also been strengthening its relationship with treaty allies in Southeast Asia with a view to better countering China.  Japan and the Philippines are both long time treaty allies of US and three months back, got together in Washington DC to renew their commitment.

President Biden promised that his country’s defence of Japan and the Philippines was “ironclad”.

Increasingly aggressive Chinese tactics against the Philippines navy has led the US to warn Beijing that Manila is its oldest treaty ally in Asia, and it is obligated to defend them if its military comes under attack.