Japan plans to provide surveillance radars to the Philippines under Tokyo's official security assistance (OSA) program, government sources said Wednesday.
The Philippines is expected to become the first country to receive aid under the program, which was introduced in fiscal 2023.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is slated to affirm the plan when he meets with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during his visit to the Southeast Asian nation from Friday.
The Japanese security aid comes as a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China is intensifying in the South China Sea, leading to a series of ship collisions.
The OSA program is designed to help boost the military capabilities of like-minded countries by providing defense equipment and promoting infrastructure development.
Japan plans to utilize the program for aid to Malaysia, Bangladesh and Fiji as well in the current fiscal year through March 2024.
Kishida will visit the Philippines and Malaysia for three days through Sunday. He is set to become the first Japanese prime minister to deliver a speech at the Philippine Congress, planning to announce Tokyo's next-generation diplomatic policy toward Southeast Asia. Kishida will meet with his Malaysian counterpart, Anwar Ibrahim, on Sunday.
"While drastically strengthening Japan's own defenses, it's essential to improve the security and deterrent capabilities of like-minded countries," given Japan's severe security situation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference on Wednesday.
Located on a strategically important sea lane, the Philippines is "our important security partner," he said.
In their upcoming meeting, Kishida and Marcos are expected to confirm that Japan and the Philippines will start talks on a reciprocal access agreement to allow the Japanese Self-Defense Forces and the Philippine military to visit each other's country easily.