PH, Japan ink defense cooperation accord

MANILA – The Philippines and Japan have signed a defense equipment cooperation agreement that will allow Japan to transfer defense equipment and technology, possibly surveillance aircraft, to the country.

The Philippines is the first Southeast Asian country to enter into such an agreement with Japan.
“What underpins this agreement is not only our mutual desire to enhance our defensive capabilities, but also to contribute to regional peace and stability,” said Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

Gazmin and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa on Monday signed the agreement providing for the framework for the transfer of defense equipment and technology to the Philippines.

The agreement is seen to reinforce robust ties between the two countries and enhance the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ defense capability to address security concerns, regional peace and stability.
The Philippines is the third country Japan has agreed to enter into an arrangement.

Asked on what equipment the Philippines may acquire from Japan, Gazmin said: “Japan is offering a surveillance aircraft at the moment but nothing is final.”

The pledge to transfer defense articles comes at a time when the Philippines is facing a territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. Japan is also involved in a dispute with China and Taiwan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The Department of National Defense (DND) said both sides made several consultations on the transfer of defense equipment and technology with the involvement of the Department of Foreign Affairs, and Japan’s ministry of foreign affairs and ministry of defense.

“Both sides are optimistic that tangible cooperation would be drawn up in accordance with the said agreement,” the DND said in a statement.

This will allow the Philippine military to have access to equipment and technology from partner countries such as Japan.

Gazmin noted that the agreement, apart from facilitating the transfer of equipment and technology, will allow both countries to conduct joint research, development and production projects.

The DND noted that the move was in line with Japan’s security policy of making a proactive contribution to international peace and stability by transferring defense equipment to its neighbors to develop their respective defense capabilities.

It may be recalled that in January, the DND signed with Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani a memorandum on defense cooperation and exchanges between the two countries.