Japanese Foreign Press Secretary Tasuhisa Kawamura made the announcement at a press briefing in Malacañang, echoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to further promote defense and maritime security cooperation between his country and the Philippines.Japanese forces will join this year’s joint Balikatan military exercises between the Philippines and the United States, a Tokyo official said yesterday. (AP Photo/Justin Lynch)
Japanese forces will join this year’s joint Balikatan military exercises between the Philippines and the United States, a Tokyo official said yesterday.
Japanese Foreign Press Secretary Tasuhisa Kawamura made the announcement at a press briefing in Malacañang, echoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s commitment to further promote defense and maritime security cooperation between his country and the Philippines.
The annual military exercise will push through this year despite an earlier rant by President Duterte against allowing US forces to take part in joint drills with Filipino soldiers. His anger stemmed from the US calling his attention to human rights abuses in the conduct of his so-called war on drugs.
He had called for the scrapping of the annual exercises and asked the Americans to pack their bags and leave.
Japan normally sends military personnel to Balikatan only as observers.
“For this year’s Balikatan, the Japanese Self-Defense Force is going to attend,” Kawamura said. There is no date yet for this year’s Balikatan.
“Japan will continue to cooperate – promote the cooperation in the defense area, including capacity building and equipment, and training and exercises and so on,” he added.
Abe concluded his two-day official visit yesterday after spending the night in Davao City, home province of Duterte, who received the Prime Minister in his home.
“On the issue of security and terrorism, anti-terrorism measures, Japan welcomes today the conclusion of the exchange of notes between our two countries concerning the high-speed boats,” Kawamura revealed.
“Japan would accelerate its decision to support, in fact to make a further support providing the security-related equipment to the Philippines,” he added.
In the area of maritime security, the official reiterated that Japan would provide the Philippines with new patrol boats.
He said Japan is pursuing a loan agreement with the Philippines for the latter’s acquisition of TC-90, a training aircraft of the Japanese Self-Defense Force. He added Filipino pilots are being trained to fly the aircraft.
Earlier reports showed Japan was keen on participating regularly and actively in joint drills with the US and the Philippines.
Kawamura also emphasized Japan’s alliance with the US is the “cornerstone” of his country’s foreign and security policies.
“And this question will see no change whoever becomes the next president, although Mr. Trump is going to be soon the president of the United States,” Kawamura added.
“So we’ll maintain this position and we’ll continue to look closely to the next US administration. So that the region, the Asia-Pacific region, will be secure and prosperous,” he maintained.
“If the question is about the Filipino-China relationship… basically, we should refrain from comment,” he stressed.