Japanese Prime Minister Visits Philippine Patrol Ship in Show of Support Against China’s Maritime Assertiveness

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently made a significant visit to the Japanese-built BRP Teresa Magbanua, a Philippine patrol ship docked in Manila harbor. This visit, following talks with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, aimed to strengthen defense ties and address shared concerns over China’s behavior in maritime disputes with neighboring countries.


During his visit, Prime Minister Kishida expressed his hope that these efforts would contribute to regional peace, prosperity, and the realization of a free and open Indo-Pacific. Japan has been actively supporting the Philippines in bolstering its maritime capabilities by providing a dozen patrol ships, including the 97-meter-long Magbanua. These ships are crucial for sovereignty patrols, supply transportation, and rotating navy and marine personnel to the Philippines-occupied islands, islets, and reefs in the South China Sea.


The South China Sea is a focal point of tension, with multiple countries, including China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, asserting claims over various parts of this strategically important waterway, a key global trade route. The Philippines has raised strong objections to China’s actions in the region, including the use of blinding laser light and water cannon in separate incidents and blockades that led to minor collisions.


During the talks in Manila, Kishida and Marcos agreed to initiate negotiations for a Reciprocal Access Agreement, a significant defense pact that would allow their troops to conduct joint military exercises on each other’s territories. Furthermore, Japan committed to providing coastal surveillance radars to the Philippine navy as part of a new security grant program aimed at enhancing the military capabilities of friendly nations.


Japan’s territorial dispute with China over islands in the East China Sea adds another layer of complexity to the regional dynamics. In his historic speech before a joint session of the Philippine Congress, Prime Minister Kishida reiterated Japan’s commitment to supporting the Philippine military and maritime agencies, reinforcing their capabilities in the face of regional challenges.

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