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Philippines, Japan announce negotiations for key defence pact

MANILA: Japan and the Philippines said on Friday (Nov 3) that they will start negotiations for a defence pact that would allow the countries to deploy troops on each other’s territory.

Tokyo and Manila – longtime allies of Washington – are deepening their defence cooperation as they seek to counter China’s growing military pressure.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida made the announcement following talks in Manila.

“We are cognisant of the benefits of having this arrangement both to our defence and military personnel and to maintaining peace and stability in our region,” Marcos said, as he stood beside Kishida in the presidential palace.

Marcos and Kishida said Japan would also provide the Philippines with a coastal radar surveillance system as part of a 600 million yen (US$4 million) security assistance package.

Kishida is the first Japanese prime minister to visit the Philippines since 2017. He is scheduled to address a special joint session of Congress on Saturday – the first Japanese leader to do so.

Japan invaded and occupied the Philippines during World War II, but the two countries have since grown closer due to trade and investment, and more recently, through China’s growing assertiveness.

The reciprocal access agreement creates the legal basis for the countries to send defence personnel to each other’s territory for training and other operations.

Japan signed similar accords with Britain and Australia in the past two years.

The Philippines has the equivalent visiting forces agreement with the United States and Australia.

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