Tokyo, Manila reaffirm defense ties

Kyodo

Tokyo and Manila have reaffirmed that they will bolster defense cooperation in response to the recent bellicose actions and rhetoric of Beijing, which is seeking to expand its maritime interests in the East China and the South China seas.

The agreement came in vice director-level talks on maritime security held Friday at the Philippines’ Foreign Ministry.

The recent standoff between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, as well as the presence of Chinese surveillance ships near the disputed Scarborough Shoal off the Philippine coast in the South China Sea, were raised in the six-hour dialogue, according to participants.

Both sides agreed that sovereignty disputes “should be settled peacefully in accordance with the relevant international laws,” a statement issued after the discussions said.

The Philippines explained that it has brought its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea to the United Nations for arbitration. The Japanese side expressed understanding while expressing its intention to continue to support the capacity-building of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Both sides agreed to hold the next round of talks in Tokyo sometime in 2014, with the exact date and venue to be decided at a later date. Tokyo hosted the first session in September 2011.