Japan, Philippines Agree to Strongly Boost Defense Ties

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Agreement allows Japanese troops to join humanitarian exercises in the Philippines and is seen as a step towards deeper defence ties.

The leaders of Japan and the Philippines signed a defensive agreement on Thursday in Tokyo which aims to boost the military cooperation between the two island nations.

The defence arrangement signed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday will allow Japanese troops to join training exercises to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian needs in the Philippines.

The agreement is seen as a step toward broader military cooperation and could lead to similar agreements between Japan and other Southeast Asian nations.

Kishida said the two countries will continue talks to further strengthen and streamline their militaries' joint exercises and other operations, while seeking to expand the transfer of Japanese defence equipment and technology to the Philippines and strengthen cooperation trilaterally with the United States.

“After our meeting, I can confidently say that our strategic partnership is stronger than ever as we navigate together the rough waters buffeting our region,” Marcos said at a joint news conference with Kishida.

The two leaders “resolved” to increase the defence capabilities of their own countries and strengthen overall security cooperation with reciprocal port calls and aircraft visits and the transfer of more defence equipment and technology, according to a joint statement released later Thursday.

It said Japan will transfer air surveillance radar systems to the Philippines and provide related personnel training.

They “expressed serious concerns about the situation in the East and China Seas and strongly opposed the actions including force or coercion that may increase tensions," the statement said.