Philippines, Japan ink deal on defense equipment

Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star) - February 29, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement yesterday that would pave the way for Tokyo to transfer defense equipment and technology to Manila.

Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin sealed the agreement in a ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Gazmin said the Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asian and the third in the world with which Japan has such an agreement.

The accord is an offshoot of the Memorandum of Defense Cooperation forged by the two countries in 2015.

“Japan is offering a surveillance aircraft at the moment, but nothing is final,” Gazmin said when asked what defense equipment Japan would transfer to the Philippines.

Just like the Philippines, which is facing a major challenge over China’s maritime claim in the West Philippine Sea, Japan is also embroiled in a territorial row with China over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

Aside from the newly signed agreement, Japan is also providing the Philippines 10 new boats to help the Philippine Coast Guard patrol and safeguard the country’s maritime domain.

“This agreement would really substantiate the Philippines and Japan being strategic partners. And the transfer of equipment would enable our sides to conduct joint research, development and production projects,” Gazmin said.

He added that aside from mutual desire to enhance both countries’ defense capabilities, the agreement would also contribute to regional peace.

The defense chief called on both countries to look ahead and explore more mechanisms to deepen the partnership in information sharing and possibly forge a visiting forces agreement (VFA).

Aside from the United States, the Philippines has a standing VFA with Australia.

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