Japan cites ‘cooperation’ with PH amid China tensions

Carmela Fonbuena
Japan's Yamamoto: We agreed upon that any country should not try to change the status quo unilaterally by force

'STRONG COOPERATION.' Japan highlights maritime security cooperation. Ichita Yamamoto, Japanese Minister in charge of Ocean Policy and Territorial Issues, speaks to reporters in Manila, September 5, 2013. Photo by Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines — Japan highlighted the need to “cooperate” with the Philippines “to send a strong message in the international community” on sea disputes in the wake of fresh tension between Manila and Beijing over Panatag (Scarborough) shoal.

READ: China put up 75 blocks in Scarborough

“Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told me the concern. We share the Philippines situation and Philippines concern,” Ichita Yamamoto, Minister in charge of Ocean Policy and Territorial Issues, told reporters in a briefing in Camp Aguinaldo Thursday, September 5.

Yamamoto met with Gazmin and foreign affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario.

“We agreed that any country should not try to change the status quo unilaterally by force. We also agreed that rule of law is very important in this region and in maritime domain,” Yamamoto said.

“We also agreed that the establishment of rule of law is a very important agenda, which requires close cooperation between Japan and Philippines. And we’d like to continue to cooperate with the Philippines in order to send strong messages to the international community,” he added.

Yamamoto’s visit comes after Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit in July, where he met with President Aquino.

Both Japan and the Philippines have territorial disputes with neighboring China.

Fresh tension is brewing between Manila and Beijing, with the Philippines claiming China has constructed blocks on the disputed Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal). China claims practially all of South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).

Meanwhile, Japan is accusing China of sending an increasing number of ships to exert its claim over unpopulated Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.

READ: Japan boosts defense of disputed islands

The Philippines is currently negotiating a new military-to-military agreement with the United States to allow increased rotational presence of US troops in the country, and to give them wider access to Philippine military bases. 

Gazmin earlier said the Philippines will also work out a similar agreement with Japan, but the Philippine government and the Japanese minister refused to detail discussions. The US is a treaty ally of the Philippines. Japan is not. 

Ichita also visited former American bases in Clark and Subic.

“In Okinawa, utilization of former American bases has become a very important agenda. I would like to promote the agenda with relevant municipalities,” he added. — Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.