Department of National Defense

Philippines, Japan, Australia, US defense chiefs to meet in Hawaii 

Bea Cupin

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Philippines, Japan, Australia, US defense chiefs to meet in Hawaii 

SHOULDER TO SHOULDER. The defense chiefs of the US and the Philippines meet on the sidelines of an ASEAN Defense Ministers meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia on November 15, 2023.

Secretary Lloyd Austin/Handout

It is the second time for defense ministers of the four countries to sit down and meet

MANILA, Philippines – Months after a historical quadrilateral joint sail of their navies in the West Philippine Sea, the defense chiefs of the Philippines, Japan, United States, and Australia will be meeting for the second time ever in Honolulu, Hawaii in the first week of May 2024.

The meeting was first announced by Japanese Defense Minister Kihara Minoru and then confirmed by the Philippine Defense Department on Monday, April 29. The US Defense Department made the same announcement early April 30.

In a release, the United States Department of Defense said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III will hold bilateral meetings with both Australian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Richard Marles and with Kihara. The US, Australia, and Japan will then have a trilateral ministerial meeting before the quadrilateral gathering takes place.

The top defense officials of the four countries first met on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore back in June 2023. Back then, the Philippines was represented by defense officer-in-charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez and Japan was represented by former defense minister Hamada Yasukazu.

The navies of the four countries sailed together in early April 2024 amid rising tensions in the West Philippine Sea, an area of the South China Sea that includes the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. China claims practically all of the South China Sea, in defiance of a 2016 Arbitral Ruling that deemed Beijing’s claim invalid. Chinese vessels – from its navy, coast guard, and a fleet of fishing ships – are constantly in different parts of the South China Sea, including features within the West Philippine Sea.

Japan, Australia, and the Philippines are all allies of the United States. Ties between the four countries – bilateral and multilateral – have strengthened and developed in recent years especially as China grows more assertive not just in the South China Sea but in the rest of the Indo-Pacific. The leaders of the US, Japan, and the Philippines, recently expressed “serious concern” over Chinese actions in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

The US Defense Department said Austin’s Hawaii visit, which includes him presiding over the US Indo-Pacific Command change of command, happens as the US and its allies “[continue] to deliver historic momentum toward a shared regional vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Philippines, US, Japan, Australia to hold ‘maritime cooperative activity’

Philippines, US, Japan, Australia to hold ‘maritime cooperative activity’


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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.