Philippines-Japan relations

Philippines, Japan sign military access pact 

Bea Cupin

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Philippines, Japan sign military access pact 

The Philippines and Japan sign the Reciprocal Access Agreement in Malacañang on Monday, July 8.

Presidential CommunicationS Office

(1st UPDATE) The agreement is signed less than a year after formal negotiations began

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan on Monday, July 8, signed the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), a deal that would make it easier for the militaries of both countries to train and operate in each other’s soil.

Philippines, Japan sign military access pact 

The ceremony took place in Malacañang, following Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defense Minister Minoru Kihara’s call on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. signed on behalf of the Philippines while Kamikawa signed for Japan. Marcos witnessed the signing of the document.

Kamikawa and Kihara are in Manila to attend the second 2+2 ministerial meeting with their Philippine counterparts defense chief Teodoro and Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.

Officials from both countries under the previous Duterte administration had made a commitment to sign an RAA, in April 2022 during the first 2+2 ministerial meeting in Tokyo. Marcos and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida first discussed the agreement during the Philippine president’s official visit to Tokyo in February 2023.

Negotiations for the RAA formally began in November 2023.

The agreement comes as China persists in its aggressive actions in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

The deal adds to the growing diplomatic, defense, and security ties between the two Asian nations. Japan and the Philippines have been strategic partners since 2011.

Japan’s defense and security commitments to the Philippines include help in purchasing the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)’s newest vessels, as well as providing mobile air surveillance radar system to the military. Manila is the pioneering recipient of Japan’s Official Security Assistance.

Japan has existing RAAs with two other countries – Australia and the United Kingdom. The Philippines, meanwhile, has a Visiting Forces Agreement with the United States and a Status of the Visiting Forces Agreement with Australia.

The Philippines, like Japan, is a treaty ally of the United States.

The RAA also builds on growing multilateral defense cooperations in the region – a quadrilateral cooperation between the US, the Philippines, Japan and Australia, as well as a trilateral cooperation between the US, the Philippines, and Japan.

Marcos, Kishida, and US President Joe Biden met in Washington back in April 2024.

Data from the Philippine government show that Japan is its second largest trading partner with trade amounting to $20.71 billion in 2023. – Rappler.com

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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.