Japan to supply Philippines with military equipment

AP

Japan will sign an accord with the Philippines to allow Tokyo to supply military equipment to Manila, the first such Japanese defense pact in a region where both have expressed alarm over China’s island-building and other aggressive acts in disputed waters.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Saturday that the agreement he will sign on Monday with the Japanese ambassador in Manila is not directed against any country but aims to address gaps in the underfunded Philippine military’s capabilities.

The Asian allies began stepping up defense cooperation “even before the disagreement in the West Philippine Sea,” Gazmin said, using the name the Philippine government has adopted for the disputed South China Sea, where its territorial conflict with Beijing has flared in recent years.

“It’s not directed against any country,” he said in what appeared to be an effort to avoid provoking any hostile Chinese reaction.

The Asian neighbors have openly brought their security and political ties to new levels, including by holding joint naval search and rescue drills near the disputed South China Sea last year that angered Beijing.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have exchanged visits and vowed to intensify defense cooperation, sparking talks about a possible security pact that will allow Japanese forces to hold larger drills with Filipino troops in the Philippines. The Philippines has signed such visiting forces accords with the United States and Japan.

Emperor Akihito paid his respects last month at war memorials in the Philippines, where the largest number of Japanese troops perished during the invasion in World War II.

Last year, the Diet approved contentious legislation that expands the role of its Self-Defense Forces by loosening post-World War II constraints, reinterpreting the war-renouncing Constitution (rather than amending it), and fundamentally changing the way it uses its forces.

For the first time since the end of the war, its armed forces can now defend allies even when Japan itself is not under attack under an arrangement known as collective self-defense, and work more closely with the United States and other nations.

The new laws have sparked protests and debate about whether Japan should part from its pacifist ways to face growing security challenges.

Gazmin said there has been no discussion on what defense equipment Japan can provide, but added that the Philippine military needs to upgrade its intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

“They haven’t offered what we can buy,” Gazmin said. “There needs to be a wish list.”

A senior Philippine security official said the new pact will pave the way for Japan to sell new military hardware, transfer defense technology, donate used military equipment or provide defense training to Filipino forces.

It “opens the door to a lot of opportunities beyond the confines of mere equipment transfer or sale,” the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

The Philippines, however, is restricted from reselling or transferring any Japanese-supplied military equipment to a third country, the official said.

Japan has forged similar pacts with the U.S. and Australia, but the Philippines is the first Southeast Asian country to have such a defense deal with Tokyo, Gazmin said.

Aside from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have conflicting claims in the South China Sea, a major conduit for world trade. The U.S. lays no claims to the disputed territories, but began bold attempts to promote freedom of navigation and overflight after China turned several disputed shoals into islands that rival claimants fear could be used as a springboard to project its military might and intimidate rival claimants.

Beijing has said it harbors no hegemonic intent, insisting that it has the right to build in what it says has been Chinese territory since ancient times.

  • Revelation

    Good, but not good enough.

  • Testerty

    The last time, the Filipinos were asking for a free aircraft carrier……despite they don’t have an air force.

  • Sutono Mardi

    Remember 1941, the Jap’s invaded Philipine and Mac Arthur was running, ” I shall return,” knowing who’s the bad guy is critical

  • JustaPassingThought2015

    Thank You, Japan.

  • JustaPassingThought2015

    Don’t give us minor equipment because corrupt officials might just sell them. Give us, say frigates or much better jet fighters, which we can use.

  • aram mara

    japanese leaders are smart and practical. an alliance with vietnam, ph, indonesia in preparation for an eventual war. help modernize those militaries. if war starts china will fight on many fronts. chinese navy will be trapped, ringed by enemies, japan’s navy will be waiting if they try to escape. japan doesn’t even need america. the samurai is much more honorable and brave than american soldiers. in a million years i could never imagine the samurai crying if captured by the enemy. like us marines and navy do. america fears japan that’s why they nuked you guys and have never left your land.

  • Zdenka Micka

    Philippines should just buy some nukes from India. A few dozen exploding in each Chinese city – Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin – would certainly make China withdraw, just like it did against Vietnam in 1979

  • Jake Nimora

    This is big a formidable alliance between Philippines, Japan and Vietnam, unstoppable trio against China.