mandag 8. juli 2024

Philippines, Japan sign groundbreaking defense pact as ‘counterweight’ to China

The Philippines and Japan signed a defense pact Monday that will allow troops to be deployed in each other’s country, a landmark agreement seen as a counterweight to China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea. The Reciprocal Access Agreement, or RAA, was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa in Manila at a ceremony witnessed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Japan’s foreign and defense ministers are in the city for “two-plus-two” meetings with their Philippine counterparts. The RAA serves as a framework for security operations and training between the two nations, including joint military drills and maritime patrols in the parts of the South China Sea claimed by Beijing but within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

Japan has pursued similar agreements with a handful of countries, such as the United Kingdom and Australia, but this is a first in Asia. It also signifies the first time Japanese troops will be allowed to return to Philippine soil since the Imperial army’s occupation during World War II.