The Japanese are coming: Philippines, Japan to forge Visiting Forces agreement

The Philippines and Japan have entered into a wide area of Strengthened Strategic Partnership involving regional security and economic growth. “Since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1956, bilateral relations, especially under the current leaderships of both countries, have reached an excellent stage today,” says in the joint Philippine-Japan declaration released by President Aquino and Prime Minister Abe May 4 in Tokyo.

The two leaders discussed, during their summit, the possibility of visiting forces agreement.

“The Philippines does welcome this development and we will be initiating all the diplomatic requirements to come up with a Visiting Forces Agreement,” Aquino told reporters during a press conference with Japan National Press Club.

“It does not behoove a good partnership if you’re not able to work at interoperability with the other,” he noted.

Aquino and Abe also agreed to start the negotiations to come up with an agreement on defense equipment and technology tranfer. Japanese media says transfer involves anti-submarine, maritime patrol aircraft and radars.

On military interoperability, they agreed to strengthen “cooperation between relevant authorities of both countries on the participation of Japan Self-Defense Forces in disaster relief activities in the Philippines.” And, “the expansion of bilateral and multilateral trainings and exercises for capacity building in areas including those covered by the Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges between the Department of National Defense and Ministry of Defense.”