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PH-Japan Vice-Ministerial Meeting in Tokyo

The PH-Japan vice-ministerial meeting, on February 10, convened for the 5th time in Tokyo, Japan with Undersecretary for Defense Policy Ricardo David Jr and Japanese Vice-Minister for International Affairs Ro Manabe heading their respective delegations.

Vice-minister Manabe assured the Philippines of Japan's support for the Philippine's Chairmanship of ASEAN this year. He reiterated Japan's intention to promote defense cooperation with ASEAN member states. Japan is ready to pursue deeper defense cooperation with the Philippines through exchanges and defense equipment transfer, according to the vice-minister.

He expressed Japan's readiness to contribute in the trilateral cooperation among the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia in addressing piracy and terrorism and requested the Philippines to convey how Japan could best assist in curbing piracy and kidnapping in the three countries' shared maritime areas.

Usec David, for his part acknowledged Japan's contribution to the capabiity upgrade of Philippine defense forces specifically the lease of 5 TC-90 aircraft for maritime surveillance, the first two to be delivered in late March. Japan likewise provides capacity building asisstance particularly in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

The robustness of PH-Japan defense is manifested through the increasing exchanges between the two defense ministries as well as service-to-service interactions. As Japan is interested to undertake exercises with the Philippines, Usec David stressed the need for the two countries to conclude a status of visiting forces agreement.

Prior to the meeting, the Japanese side briefed the Philippine delegation of the latest developments in the South China Sea which Japan has monitored, assuring the Philippines that Tokyo will continue to share with Manila timely information specifically violations of the rule of law, in reference to the decision issued by Permanent Court of Arbitration in July last year.

Joining Usec David in this bilateral meeting are Defense Assistant Secretary for Assessments and International Affairs Raymund Quilop and Philippine Navy's Flag-Officer-in-Command Vice Admiral Ronald Joseph Mercado.