Japan, Philippines sign defence pact with eyes on China

Japan and the Philippines have signed a defence pact allowing the deployment of troops on each other’s soil amid shared concerns over China’s growing military power.

Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Yoko Kamikawa and Philippine Secretary of National Defense Gilberto Teodoro signed the Reciprocal Access Agreement on Monday during a ceremony in Manila.

Under the agreement, Japanese forces will be able to deploy in the Philippines for joint military exercises and Filipino forces will be able to carry out combat training in Japan.

The pact will need to be ratified by both countries’ legislatures to come into effect.

The agreement comes as Japan and the Philippines, both long-standing allies of the United States, are wary of China’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Beijing has laid claim to more than 90 percent of the South China Sea, including waters that lie within the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines and four other Southeast Asian countries.

An international tribunal at the Hague in 2016 found that Beijing’s claims had “no legal basis”.

China and the Philippines’s coast guards and navies have been involved in numerous confrontations in the disputed waters, including an incident last month during which Chinese coast guard personnel wielding knives and spears used motorboats to ram two Philippine navy supply vessels.

Japan has a longstanding territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands located between Taiwan and Okinawa.

Under Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Tokyo has sought to boost its military firepower, including through reciprocal access agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has forcefully denounced China’s actions in the South China Sea and warned that his country would consider the death of any Filipino at its hands as close to “an act of war”.

Credit: aljazeera.com


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