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MANILA, Philippines – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the Philippines, the United States, and his country are working to ensure rules-based international order is recognized in the West Philippine Sea.
Kishida, in his address to Philippine Congress on Saturday, November 4, underlined the need for “multilayered cooperation” among like-minded nations. Japan and the United State have been consistent in their support for the Philippines, whose personnel in the West Philippine Sea bear the brunt of Chinese aggression.
“In the South China Sea, the trilateral cooperation to protect the freedom of the sea is underway,” Kishida said, emphasizing that maritime order “is governed by laws and rules, not by force.”
This comes over a month after the three countries’ top diplomats had a trilateral meeting during the United Nations General Assembly High-level Week in September. Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko, Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed their commitment to promote stability in the troubled waters of the East and South China Sea.
On Friday, November 5, Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. had agreed to start negotiations on the proposed Reciprocal Access Agreement. This would allow further defense and security cooperation and activities between the two countries.
Tokyo also granted Manila a P235.5-million Official Security Assistance grant for a coastal surveillance radar for the Philippine Navy.
Kishida noted that his quick but eventful stop in Manila is a sign of the “golden age” of relations between the two countries. Aside from the security and defense partnerships, the two countries also inked deals on tourism cooperation and mining, among others.
Ahead of the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation next month, Kishida also highlighted Japan’s new Free and Open Indo-Pacific plan that includes ways to promote connectivity as well as improve security and cooperation between Japan and ASEAN member states.
“In the commemorative summit meeting in December, we will jointly formulate a vision to create a new era of sustainable and prosperous development together, while building ‘trust’ for the next generation,” said Kishida. – Rappler.com