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FACT CHECK: No deal yet on Japan access to Philippine military bases


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FACT CHECK: No deal yet on Japan access to Philippine military bases
The Philippines and Japan have yet to sign an agreement that would allow Japanese troops access to Philippine military bases

Claim: Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) soldiers are set to be stationed in Philippine bases as a countermeasure against Beijing’s hostile acts towards Manila.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The YouTube video, posted on October 5 by a channel notorious for dubious military claims, has 143,291 views and 3,500 likes as of writing.

The narrator said, “Sundalo at mga assets ng mga Japan, i-dedestino na sa mga base ng Pilipinas kasama ang mga Amerikano. Ito na nga ang maglalagay ng tuldok sa paghahari-harian ng China.

(Japanese soldiers and assets will be deployed to Philippine bases, along with the Americans. This will mark the end of China’s bullying.)

The video’s title also claimed that Japan would set up its own bases in the Philippines.

The bottom line: Discussions are still ongoing for the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) that would allow Japanese troops to conduct joint drills and access military bases in the Philippines.

The misleading video implied that the relocation of JSDF troops and the establishment of Japan’s own bases in the Philippines had been confirmed to be part of the proposed agreement. However, there are no official reports or statements from both governments confirming details of the RAA. 

As of writing, only US troops can access Philippine bases under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the two countries.

Military agreement: The proposed RAA is a defense pact similar to the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement with the US. It would establish procedures between the two countries for cooperative activities to promote bilateral security and defense. 

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. is eyeing the signing of the RAA “hopefully” in 2023. He said that the foreign affairs department is still reviewing provisions of the agreement, after which it would need Senate ratification since it is a treaty. 

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has also said he is open to a reciprocal military access agreement “if it will be of help to the Philippines in terms of protecting our fishermen, protecting our maritime territory.”

Plans to allow Japanese troops access to Philippine bases were first explored in 2015 during the Aquino administration in response to China’s growing aggression in disputed waters.

The Philippines and Japan are protecting their claims in the West Philippine Sea and East China Sea, respectively.

Japan currently has an existing RAA with the United Kingdom and Australia

Defense cooperation: In February 2023, Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida signed the terms of reference on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the JSDF. The agreement would allow the JSDF and Philippine troops to conduct joint military exercises for disaster and humanitarian response, and is seen as a step closer towards a reciprocal military agreement.

Maritime security: The video was posted amid Japan’s activities in the Asia-Pacific aimed at strengthening maritime security cooperation. In recent months, Japan participated in joint maritime drills with the Philippines, US, and Australia in the South China Sea, and has condemned China’s harassment of Philippine vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

Rappler has published multiple fact-checks on claims about the Philippine military:

– Kyle Marcelino/Rappler.com

Kyle Marcelino is a graduate of Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program. This fact check was reviewed by a member of Rappler’s research team and a senior editor. Learn more about Rappler’s fact-checking mentorship program here.

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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