Philippines, Japan enhance bilateral defense cooperation
Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - February 1, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines and Japan are enhancing bilateral defense cooperation in response to mounting maritime security concerns in the South China Sea, West Philippine Sea and the East China Sea, the Department of the National Defense announced yesterday.

The development emerged after a bilateral defense ministerial meeting between Defense Secretary Voltaire and his counterpart Gen Nakatani.

“The two ministers shared views to elevate bilateral defense cooperation and exchanges to a new phase based on the ‘strategic partnership’ between Japan and the Philippines,” a joint press statement said.

The two officials also signed a Memorandum on Defense and Cooperation and Exchanges. It was also agreed upon during the meeting that ministerial dialogues would be held on a regular basis.

Gazmin and Nakatani agreed that the Philippine Navy, being a member of the Western Pacific Naval Symposium (WPSN), would contribute to the development of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES).

A number of defense and security analysts have raised fears that China’s aggressive actions in the Asia-Pacific region can trigger armed hostilities.

For this, both defense chiefs agreed to launch a joint naval training this year using CUES as training blueprint.

On the upgrade of aerial territorial defense, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) is also expected to participate in the “Cope North Guam,” a Japan-US-Australia joint air exercise.

Gazmin and Nakatani also agreed to explore cooperation in defense equipment and technology from which the Philippines stands to greatly benefit.

From being a regional military power in the early 60s up to the early 70s, the Philippines has become one of the weakest – a situation China has taken advantage of to advance its territorial ambition.

Meanwhile, the Philippines will receive two decommissioned Landing Craft Heavy (LCH) vessels from Australia.

Australian Defense Minister Kevin Andrews announced yesterday that the former Royal Australian Navy vessels HMAS Tarakan and HMAS Brunei would be donated to the Philippine Navy after being refurbished with new safety and navigational equipment. – Pia Lee Brago                                                                      

AUSTRALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER KEVIN ANDREWS COPE NORTH GUAM DEFENSE DEFENSE AND COOPERATION AND EXCHANGES DEFENSE SECRETARY VOLTAIRE DEPARTMENT OF THE NATIONAL DEFENSE GAZMIN AND NAKATANI GEN NAKATANI PHILIPPINE NAVY
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