Philippines-Japan relations

Philippine-Japan security ties in spotlight as Kishida visits Manila

Bea Cupin

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Philippine-Japan security ties in spotlight as Kishida visits Manila

OFFICIAL VISIT. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida visits the Rizal Monument in Manila for a wreath-laying ceremony on November 3, 2023.

Rene H. Dilan/PPA

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida embarks on a whirlwind two-day visit to Manila, where he will be meeting with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and addressing lawmakers from both chambers of the Philippine Congress

MANILA, Philippines – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida arrived in Manila on Friday, November 3, his first stop in a two-city trip to Southeast Asia.

Kishida’s itinerary in the Philippines is jam-packed. After landing at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) mid-afternoon, the prime minister will head to the Rizal Monument in Manila for a wreath-laying ceremony.

His official visit formally kicks off late afternoon in Malacañang where he will be given arrival honors. 

In Malacañang, Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. are expected to have a bilateral meeting and a joint press conference. Marcos and First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos will also be hosting a state banquet at the Palace in honor of the Japanese prime minister and his wife, Yuko Kishida.

“The two leaders will hold a bilateral meeting to discuss areas of mutual concern such as political, security, economic and development cooperation, as well as people-to-people ties,” said the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

The two are also expected to “exchange views on regional and international issues, and reaffirm the excellent relations between the Philippines and Japan,” said the Palace. 

Kishida and Marcos had met recently, on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Jakarta, alongside United States Vice President Kamala Harris. The first time the two met was on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York back in September 2022.

Must Read

Threesome: Philippines, Japan and the US

Threesome: Philippines, Japan and the US

According to the Japanese embassy in a post on X, formerly Twitter, Kishida will be “evoking memories of the 1977 Fukuda Doctrine in Manila” and “will deliver a message on Japan’s Southeast Asia diplomacy and Japan-Philippine relations.”

The Fukuda Doctrine refers to three points in former Japanese prime minister Takeo Fukuda’s historic 1977 speech at the Manila Hotel, the last stop in his tour of Southeast Asian countries then. The doctrine outlined Japan’s foreign policy in relation to the region. The key points, according to a 2018 post from the Japanese embassy, are the following:

  • Japan is committed to peace and rejects the role of a military power;
  • Japan will consolidate the relationship of mutual confidence and trust based on “heart-to-heart” understanding among peoples of Japan and Southeast Asia; and 
  • Japan will be an equal partner of ASEAN and its member countries.

That Kishida is set to address his country’s commitments to its ASEAN diplomatic policy comes as tensions rise in the region over China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea. Manila, in particular, has been the recipient of Chinese actions, particularly in the West Philippine Sea or the part of the South China Sea within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Regional stability, Philippine ties

Tokyo has, in the last decade or so, shifted away from its former pacifist stance. In December 2022, Kishida announced a five-year plan that would make Japan the world’s third biggest military spender next to the United States and China, Reuters reported.

The shift reflects Japan’s growing role in regional security and stability. 

Kishida, speaking at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June 2022, said Japan would begin a new era of “realism diplomacy.” “We will be more proactive than ever in tackling the challenges and crises that face Japan, Asia, and the world,” he said then. 

For the Philippines, defense ties with Japan run deep and are steadily expanding. 

There is an anticipated military deal that would allow Japanese troops to hold drills and access military bases in the Philippines. House Speaker Martin Romualdez, the President’s cousin, said in February 2023 that the two countries are moving in the “general direction” of solidifying that deal. Marcos himself said that while formal negotiations have yet to begin, he wants to see closer security ties with Japan. 

Kishida’s engagements in Manila include a visit to the BRP Teresa Magbanua, one of the biggest ships of the Philippine Coast Guard and one of 13 PCG vessels made in Japan, according to PCG spokesperson Commodore Armand Balilo.

The BRP Teresa Magbanua is the lead of its class and was modeled after Japan’s Kunigami-class coast guard vessels. It was funded through a loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Also paying a visit to the PCG is the commandant of the Japan Coast Guard, Admiral Shohei Ishii.

Japan is a crucial partner of the Philippines as it faces superpower China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea. Tokyo supports the 2016 arbitral ruling, which deemed invalid China’s sweeping claim to the resource-rich waterway.

Japan has also repeatedly sided with the Philippines during its encounters with Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea. In response to an October 22 collision between government vessels in the waters off Ayungin Shoal, Japan said it “opposes any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force as well as any actions that increase tensions in the South China Sea.”

Economic, political ties too

Kishida has two other major engagements while in Manila. 

He will be visiting the Metro Manila Subway Project’s depot site in Valenzuela City, underscoring Japan’s big role in the plan to build the country’s first subway. The project, which costs upwards of P488.4 billion, is mostly financed by loans from JICA.

The subway’s construction will also be handled by a Filipino-Japanese joint venture composed of Shimizu Corporation, Fujita Corporation, Takenaka Civil Engineering Company Ltd, and EEI Corporation.

Marcos himself led the ceremony to kick off the tunneling and excavation works for the subway early in 2023. Once completed, the underground railway system is envisioned to slash travel time from Quezon City to NAIA to just 35 minutes.

Must Read

Philippines turns its back on Chinese loans for 3 railway projects

Philippines turns its back on Chinese loans for 3 railway projects

Kishida will also address lawmakers from both chambers of the Philippine Congress. The Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a special joint session on Saturday, November 4, at the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City.

“We are optimistic that through our discussions, new pathways for collaboration and development will emerge, promising enhanced opportunities and a brighter future for all Filipinos, here and in Japan,” Romualdez said in a statement. 

After Manila, Kishida will be proceeding to Malaysia for the Japan-Malaysia Summit. He returns to Tokyo on Sunday, November 5. – 

Add a comment

Sort by

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

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!
Avatar photo


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.