The plan for Japan to provide coast guard patrol ships to the Philippines will be accelerated, according to Japanese officials. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario are expected to sign the final plan at their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Manila formally requested 10 coast guard patrol ship from Japan last December. A fact-finding mission, which includes experts from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, was sent by the Japanese government this May to assess the situation. They will also work with officials in coming up with the equipment preferences and also devising with plans to operate the patrol ships once they are turned over. The delivery for the vessels are expected to begin by next fiscal year from April 2014. Each ship is expected to cost more than 1 billion yen (approx. 9.74 million dollars) and will be part of the official development assistance of Japan to the Philippines.
The fast-tracking of this plan is also due to the increasing activities of China in the South China Sea. The Philippines is currently involved in a territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal. The ships and the plan being developed is to strengthen the capacity of the Philippine’s maritime police against possible actions by China over the row. Japan is considering providing assistance to Vietnam, who is also involved in a dispute with China over boundaries and territories in the maritime region as well.
[ via Global Post ]