Japan submarine, destroyers in Subic for goodwill visit
Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - April 3, 2016 - 4:57am
MANILA, Philippines - A Japanese submarine and two destroyers arrived in Subic on Sunday for a four-day goodwill visit amid China’s efforts to shore up its presence in disputed areas in the region.
Navy public affairs chief Capt. Lued Lincuna said Japanese submarine JDS Oyashio and destroyers JDS Ariake and JDS Setogiri berthed at the Alava Pier at around 9 a.m. He said the visit aims to enhance the defense ties between Japan and the Philippines.
Both Japan and its former colony the Philippines are involved in maritime disputes with China.
Japan and China are claiming the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The militarily weak Philippines, meanwhile, is protesting China’s occupation of disputed areas in the South China Sea including those located within its exclusive economic zone.
Last February, the Philippines and Japan signed an agreement that would allow Tokyo to transfer defense equipment and technology to Manila. Defense officials confirmed that Japan is offering to provide a surveillance aircraft but details are still being threshed out.
The Japanese vessels arrived a day before the formal opening of this year’s Balikatan joint military exercises of the Philippines and the United States.
The Philippine military, however, clarified that the visit had nothing to do with the bilateral drills.
“The vessels seen are not participating directly to the exercise. Perhaps few if there is,” said Cpt. Frank Sayson, spokesman of the Philippine contingent to Balikatan.
“Subic Bay is an international port and it is the ideal port for the vessels bringing in personnel and equipment from US, Japan and Australia. This numerous number of ships coming to the country has nothing to do with the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) issue,” he added.
JDS Oyashio under Cdr. Nishioka Tetsuo represents the Training Submarine Division 1 of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force. JDS Ariake and JDS Setogiri, meanwhile are under Cdr. Yoichi Kurozoe and Cdr. Fumihito Takeshita, respectively constitute the Destroyer Escort Division 15.
The Japanese contingent are expected to render a courtesy call on Rear Adm. Renan Suarez, chief of the Naval Education and Training Command.
“A series of confidence-building activities between the visiting navy and their Filipino counterparts … will be undertaken such as shipboard tour on board the Japanese ships, reception and goodwill games of football and basketball,” Lincuna said. -- Alexis Romero

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