MANILA – Japan is considering leasing around five TC-90 training airplanes of its Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Philippines, as China is developing military bases in the South China Sea, sources said Monday.
The leasing may follow the conclusion on the day of a bilateral agreement that paves the way for exports of Japanese defense equipment to the Philippines.
The Philippines is asking for Japanese aircraft for surveillance over the sea, the sources said.
In Manila on Monday, Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Kazuhide Ishikawa and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin signed the pact, which bans the Southeast Asian state from transferring Japanese defense equipment to a third country or using it for purposes other than those designated without the prior consent of Japan.
The Philippines is the first among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to enter into such an agreement with Japan.
In November last year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Benigno Aquino reached broad accord on the pact.
The Japanese government aims to conclude similar agreements with Indonesia and Malaysia, hoping to strengthen cooperation with countries sharing concerns over China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea.
In April 2014, Japan lifted the effective ban on exports of defense equipment by adopting new guidelines on exports of such products.