Defense and security issues dominate meeting between Duterte and Abe.
Japan agreed Tuesday to provide two additional patrol ships to the Philippines, a Japanese government spokesman said according to Reuters.
Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Koichi Hagiuda said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had agreed to provide two large-sized patrol ships to the Philippines following his meeting with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Laos.
Though no additional details were provided on the nature of the vessels, Japan has long been a key defense partner for the Philippines, including in the maritime security domain. Earlier this year, the two countries inked a landmark defense equipment and technology agreement, just the fourth Tokyo had signed with any other country.
The two countries have also already been discussing the transfer of additional vessels. As I have written previously, during Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to the Southeast Asian state in August, the two countries said they were looking at the transfer of two larger multi-role response vessels (MRRVs) for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) which were 90 meters in length (“See: “Philippines Gets First Japan Coast Guard Vessel”).
These were in addition to ten coast guard vessels that Japan has agreed to give the PCG as part of the Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project for search and rescue operations, assistance in marine environment protection, law enforcement, relief and transport. The first one was received in mid-August.
In addition to the two large patrol vessels, Haguida also said that both Abe and Duterte agreed during their meeting to strengthen cooperation to ensure a peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute.
Though Japan and the Philippines have long had a close relationship, ties had strengthened significantly under Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III, in part due to common concerns about China’s growing assertiveness in the East China Sea and South China Sea.
Abe also expressed solidarity with the Philippines following a deadly bombing incident in Davao City, Duterte’s hometown. He said the Japanese government would continue to cooperate closely with the Philippines in tackling terrorism.