Philippines-Japan relations

Philippines, Japan eye signing of reciprocal troops pact within 2024 – Malaya

Michelle Abad

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Philippines, Japan eye signing of reciprocal troops pact within 2024 – Malaya

ALLIES. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. shake hands during the Commemorative Summit on the 50th Year of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation.

Presidential Communications Office

(1st UPDATE) Philippine officials earlier said that the Reciprocal Access Agreement will give the Philippines 'greater capacity' to maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines and Japan are looking to sign their Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), a visiting forces pact, before the end of 2024, National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said on Saturday, April 20.

“Yes, target is before the end of the year,” Malaya confirmed to Rappler, when asked about an earlier report quoting him.

An ABS-CBN tweet also quoted Malaya as saying that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. directed their negotiators to “proceed immediately.”

The two countries agreed in November 2023 to start negotiations on the bilateral defense deal that would allow both nations to deploy troops to each other’s countries. Such an agreement may also allow joint drills and other forms of defense cooperation.

Marcos earlier said that an RAA would be “extremely significant” between the two countries, noting the greater capability it would grant “in terms of not only security but also in terms of disaster preparedness, alleviation, and adjustment.”

“And that is something that is I believe is very, very significant and that it will bring to us greater capacity to maintain the peace in [the South China Sea],” Marcos said in December 2023.

While similar, the RAA is distinct from the Visiting Forces Agreement of the Philippines with the United States. During a forum with the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines on April 15, Marcos described the RAA’s differences.

“It’s not going to be as if it’s their base and they, their seamen, will come down and will go into the city and go – I don’t think that that’s a part of the agreement,” Marcos had said.

Philippine defense officials earlier said that the RAA was slated to be signed by March 2024.

The Philippines, Japan, and the United States recently concluded a trilateral summit, with one of the focus areas cooperation in the West Philippine Sea, particularly amid China’s hostility towards Philippine vessels.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also earlier 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” after Chinese and Philippine government vessels collided during a Philippine resupply mission to Ayungin Shoal.

Japan has RAAs with just two other countries: Australia and the United Kingdom.

Tokyo has been seen as a balancing force in tempering China’s growing aggression in the region. –

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Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a multimedia reporter at Rappler. She covers the rights of women and children, migrant Filipinos, and labor.