Philippines and Japan Ink Defense Cooperation Agreement

In Japan for an official visit on January 29-30, Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin signed with Japan's Minister of Defense Gen Nakatani a Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges. The agreement is meant to provide a framework for defense cooperation between the two defense ministries and their respective armed forces. Not only does it deepen the defense relations between the Philippines and Japan, the agreement substantiates the two countries' strategic partnership. The two sides have been working on this agreement since a Statement of Intent was signed in 2012 by Secretary Gazmin and then Japanese Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto.

In their bilateral meeting immediately after signing the memorandum on defense cooperation, Secretary Gazmin and Minister Nakatani exchanged views on security issues that their respective countries commonly face, to include maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response. Secretary Gazmin acknowledged Japan's pronounced support for the Philippine rules-based approach in dealing with maritime disputes and welcomed Japan's policy of making a proactive contribution to peace along with its international partners. Both ministers stressed the importance of addressing  disputes in a peaceful manner and in accordance with international law. Noting the increasing gravity of natural disasters that have hit their respective countries, the two ministers agreed to cooperate further to enhance the capacity of their defense forces to respond and assist each other in times of disasters.

The two ministers likewise acknowledged the increasingly becoming robust defense ties between the Philippines and Japan through multi-layered exchanges from staff talks at the service level to policy talks among senior officials including the ministers themselves. They committed to further deepen relations through concrete activities and regular exchanges.

En route back to the Philippines, Secretary Gazmin visited Okinawa, the first cabinet-level official to do so, where he and his delegation were briefed on the security challenges facing Japan as seen from the perspective of Okinawa, which is considered as Japan's frontline of defense. They were shown around facilities of the Japan Air Self Defense Forces and Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces and given an opportunity to examine close hand Japan's F-15 fighters and P3-C reconnaissance planes.

The members of Secretary Gazmin's delegation include Assistant Secretary Raymund Quilop, Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary Army Colonel Danilo Isleta, Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attache Navy Captain Samuel Felix and Army Major John Aling.