According to a press release by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be visiting the Philippines for two days on July 26 and 27 to discuss with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III issues on bilateral cooperation and regional stability. This will be Abe’s second visit to the Southeast Asian country, aimed at advancing “the Strategic Partnership between the Philippines and Japan” at a time when both countries are burdened by territorial disputes with China.
“Japan is one of only two strategic partners of the Philippines,” the statement of the Philippine foreign affairs department declared. The cooperation between Japan and the Philippines already started earlier this year, with Japan fast tracking its donations of coast guard vessels to Manila. Also in June, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin met and announced that the Philippines and Japan would be talking about establishing bases for the Japanese military in the country, aside from U.S. bases in both nations’ territories. This is to make sure that Japan and the U.S. could monitor China, “the oppressive neighbor” and the “bully at our doorstep”, according the statement released.
The military basing agreement with the Philippines is connected to Abe pushing for the removal of the pacifist clauses in Japan’s post-war constitution. He has made known his intentions that he thinks it is imperative for Japan to have a military capacity beyond just defense, as in Japan’s current organization of its Self Defense Forces. Japan is currently the Philippines’ top trading partner, as well as a provider of official development assistance. As the Philippines continually improves its economic standing globally, more and more investments flow in, and Japan last year was the second major source of approved investments to the Philippines.