Japan may soon land maritime patrol aircraft in Philippines

Japan may soon seek permission from Philippine government to land air assets in Filipino air bases in a bid to join United States in conducting maritime air patrols in South China Sea. Japanese maritime air patrol in South China Sea is currently being discussed within Japanese military, Reuters reports.

A US military source of Reuters said that if Japan decides to begin flights in South China Sea, Tokyo may ask the Philippines for access to air bases under disaster relief training and other joint training exercises to give Japanese aircraft added range to stay out on patrol longer.

Japan Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said Japan may consider involvement in the disputed South China Sea, Kyodo News reports last February 3. He said that Japan currently does not conduct patrols in South China Sea, however, it may be considered in the future because the situation in South China Sea has an impact on Japan’s national security.

“We want to be a country that can contribute to peace and prosperity of the world,” Japan Prime Minister Abe said recently in US.

Philippines and Japan, in January 2015, inked “Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges between the Ministry of Defense of Japan and the Department of National Defense of the Republic of the Philippines” that will facilitate closer relationship between Japan Self-Defense Forces and Armed Forces of the Philippines in security and defense field.

Under the said memorandum, Japanese Ministry of Defense-JSDF will conduct capacity building assistance for members of Philippine Air Force and joint naval training based on Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.

This coming June 2 to 5, President Aquino is scheduled for a state visit to Japan. The visit will focus on the enhancement of the Philippine-Japan Strategic Partnership.