The Philippines is a strategic partner in the Asia-Pacific region and Japan remains committed to supporting Philippine development. This was the statement made by Japan’s Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida ahead of his arrival in Manila this Thursday.
The Philippines is the first stop of Kishida’s Asia-Pacific tour, his first overseas trip since taking office as foreign minister after his party, the Liberal Democratic Party, won the general elections in December last year. His week-long tour will also include Singapore, Brunei, and Australia. Kishida has already been to the Philippines in 2008 as Minister for Science and Technology Policy. In his statement, Kishida reiterated the cooperation between the two countries in areas such as economy, defense, and humanitarian endeavors. He also says that deepening the collaboration with Japan’s Asian neighbors, particularly the Philippines, is crucial in strengthening the alliance between Japan and the U.S., a relationship that is largely seen as keeping China’s growing assertiveness in check.
The Philippines for its part, expressed support for plans being made by Japan’s new government to improve its military status. Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario made a statement last year expressing support for proposals to transition Japan from its pacifist image, a somewhat ironic situation considering the two countries fought on opposite sides during World War II. This Wednesday, del Rosario reaffirmed this statement, saying that a rearmed Japan would be a balancing force in the region. The Philippines plans on procuring 10 multi-role response vessels for its Coast Guard to strengthen its maritime capabilities. Japan is currently engaged with China in a dispute over island in the East China Sea while the Philippines is likewise embroiled in a dispute with China over territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
[ via Daily Inquirer ]