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Japan willing to fight piracy, terrorism with Philippines

FILE — President Duterte and visiting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pass school children waving Philippine and Japanese flags during a welcome ceremony at Malacañang. Abe is the first world leader to be hosted by the Duterte administration. STAR, File

MANILA, Philippines — Japan has expressed readiness to contribute in the trilateral cooperation between the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia in addressing piracy and terrorism, the Department of National Defense said.

During the Philippines-Japan vice-ministerial meeting in Tokyo last Friday, Japanese Vice Minister for International Affairs Ro Manabe asked the Philippines on how Japan could best help in curbing piracy and kidnapping in the three countries' shared maritime areas.

RELATED: Palace backs call for joint patrols vs piracy

Manabe also assured the Philippines of Japan's support for its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year, according to a statement from the Department of National Defense (DND).

The Japanese vice minister stressed that Japan is ready 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.

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Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David Jr. acknowledged Japan's contribution to the capability of Philippine defense forces.

Japan had leased five TC-90 aircraft to the Philippines for maritime surveillance, the first two to be delivered in late March. Tokyo had also provided capacity building assistance in humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

David stressed the need for the Philippines and Japan to conclude a status of visiting forces agreement as the latter is interested to undertake joint exercises.

Japan also assured the Philippines that it will continue to share timely information regarding violations of the rule of law in the disputed South China Sea, in reference to the decision issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had brought up the South China Sea issue during his visits to the Philippines, Australia, Indonesia and Vietnam last month.

This prompted Beijing to call out the Japanese leader who had been "going to extremes to sow discord and play up regional tension."

Abe, however, stressed that the South China Sea issue is a concern to the entire international community and is directly linked to regional peace and stability.

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