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Japan, Philippines ink defence pact, amid China’s aggression

Japan Defence Minister Minoru Kihara meets with Philippine counterpart Gilberto Teodoro during a bilateral meeting in Manila (Photo credit: Reuters)

Japan and the Philippines on Monday signed a bilateral defence agreement to facilitate joint exercises for closer security cooperation, amid China’s growing assertion in regional waters.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko and Phillippines Defence Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. signed the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) treaty documents in the presence of President Ferdinand R Marcos Jr. in a ceremony at Malacann Palace according to reports from state media of the two countries-Philippines News Agency (PNA) and Kyodo.

Prior to signing of the new defence deal, President Marcos met with Kamikawa and Japanese Defence Minister Minoru Kihara.

Marcos termed the deal as “very important agreement” while Kamikawa said the signing of the RAA is “a great achievement” for the two countries deepening bilateral relations.

The agreement, which will come into force after getting ratified by respective legislative bodies of the Philippines and Japan, is expected to ease restrictions on personnel transfers between the Japan Self-Defence Forces and the Philippine military for joint drills and disaster relief operations in each other’s country.

Once the agreement takes effect, Japan will be able to participate as a full member in the large-scale Balikatan military exercise conducted annually by the Philippines and the United States near the Southeast Asian nation, which the SDF have previously joined in an observer capacity, reported Kyodo.

The treaty comes after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Marcos agreed last November to start negotiations.

AS per PNA, the Phillippines has inked similar defence pacts with the United States and Australia, while another defence deal is being pursued with France.

Similarly, Japan has pacts with Australia and Britain and one with the US called the Status of Forces Agreement.

Earlier this year on June 17 Chinese and Philippine sailors clashed near the Second Thomas Shoal about 200 km away from Palawan island.

As per Al Jazeera, during that incident, the Chinese forces injured Filipino navy personnel and damaged at least two military boats in the South China Sea. Additionally, the Filipino sailors also accused Chinese coastguards of stealing and damaging their equipment.

Meanwhile, later today Kihara and Kamikawa will take part in a “two-plus-two” ministerial security dialogue with Teodoro and Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo.

In June, this year, the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Philippines, General Romeo Brawner ticked off China over repeated confrontations between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea and accused China for “Acting Like Pirates” as per a report in the Al Jazeera Notably, the incidents of confrontations in the South China Sea have been continuing despite an international tribunal ruling its claim to have “no legal basis” in 2016.

As China has made expansionist claims over almost the entire South China Sea claiming it to be under the Nine-Dash Line. The same news report also claimed that the country has also build artificial islands and military outposts near the reef.