Enhanced Japan-PH Defense ties not targeting any country – Japan Foreign Ministry
Enhanced Japan-PH Defense ties not targeting any country – Japan Foreign Ministry
Enhanced Japan-PH Defense ties not targeting any country – Japan Foreign Ministry
by Karen Ow-Yong06 November 2023
Japan-Philippines Summit meeting in Malacanang Palace, Manila (Courtesy of

MANILA – The enhanced defense ties between Japan and the Philippines is not targeting a particular country because its aim is to facilitate reciprocal access between troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

This is according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry (MOFA) in a sit-down interview with select media, including DZRH, on the margins of Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s first official visit to Manila last November 3 to 4, 2023.

According to Japanese MOFA Press Secretary Kobayashi-Terada Maki, Japan’s push to further strengthen its defense cooperation with the Philippines is to promote a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” and is not targeted against any state.

“It is not destinated to a specific country. We consider that it is important to increase resilience, increase capacity, because (the) Philippines is situated in a very important sea lane, not only for us but for the region and for the international community,” Kobayashi-Terada said.


This is after Kishida and President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. decided to start negotiations on a Reciprocal Access Agreement (Japan-Philippines RAA), which follows a similar deal with the Philippines and the United States known as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), which will allow deployment of troops on both sides to undertake military exercises and other security activities.

According to Kobayashi-Terada, this has already been discussed as early as February this year and will be able to streamline “lengthy procedures” when both forces plan to undertake trainings, exercises and for humanitarian and disaster relief.

“We thought that it's going to be more important to have further cooperation— visiting each other, (having) more training with each other and that it’s easier to have an RAA to have more frequent cooperation together,” she added.

In a Global Times op-ed titled “Japan-Philippines Security Alliance Jeopardizes Regional Peace and Stability” and reposted by the China Military Online on November 3, China Institute of International Studies research fellow Xiang Haoyu thinks that Washington DC and Tokyo seek to use Manila as a “springboard to jointly intervene in Southeast Asian security affairs”.


In another commentary, China Post mentions “that the rapid enhancement of Japan-Philippine security relations— as both parties to the East and South China Sea rows— could be a bid to contain China.”

Kobayshi-Terada said that the enhanced defense ties “is not destinated” against any specific country but reiterated Kishida’s commitment that Japan will work with the Philippines and U.S. in protecting a rules-based maritime order in the region.

“One (of the important things) is sending the clear message that we do not accept any attempts of changing the status quo by force or by economic coercion and we have to abide by international law,” she said.

Tokyo and Manila earlier announced a number of initiatives reaffirming the two countries’ strategic partnership, as detailed in the Joint Statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs, such as Japan’s continued commitments to the development of the Philippines, specifically “the assistance that it has provided to the Philippines’ capacity development efforts and infrastructure development projects, including in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), under the banner of unity and progress.”


In relation to this, the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of efforts to reinforce Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and maritime law enforcement especially through building capacities of the Philippine Coast Guard.

During the meeting, Kishida reiterated Japan’s commitment to support the country’s infrastructure development through its Official Development Assistance (ODA), including the JPY 600 billion ODA and private-sector investments in the Japanese Fiscal year 2022-2023.

Meanwhile, Marcos welcomed Japan’s assistance for building the capabilities of the defense forces of the Philippines through its new cooperation framework which is the Official Security Assistance (OSA).

Also signed during the visit is a Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of Tourism, on Mining Sector between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; and the Exchange of Notes on the provision of construction equipment for Road Network Improvement/Implementation and Disaster Quick Response Operation under the Economic and Social Development Programme.

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