Japan, Philippines reaffirm political, defense cooperation

The Philippines and Japan reaffirmed their commitment to build a strategic partnership, particularly in political and defense cooperation, as it convened the 8th Political-Military and Military to Military Meeting on 10-11 June 2019 in Tokyo.

Coming on the heels of the summit meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on 31 May 2019, the meeting provided both countries an opportunity to build on the two leaders’ commitment to cultivating the strategic partnership as a vital force for peace, security and stability in the larger Asia-Pacific region.

The Philippine delegation was co-led by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Asia-Pacific Affairs Meynardo LB. Montealegre and Defense Assistant Secretary Teodoro Cirilo T. Torralba III, while the Japanese delegation was co-led by Foreign Affairs Deputy Director-General Toshihide Ando and Defense Director-General Hideo Suzuki.

Also present during the meeting were representatives from the National Security Council, the National Coast Watch Council Secretariat, the Philippine Navy, and the Philippine Coast Guard. Their counterpart agencies for the Japanese side also joined the meeting.

The two sides exchanged views on regional issues of mutual concern, including the developments in the South China Sea and Korean Peninsula.

They also discussed the future direction of concrete bilateral cooperation in air and maritime security and safety, defense cooperation, counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, multilateral security engagements within the ASEAN framework, and other non-traditional security concerns.

Both sides recognized the imperative to leverage the Philippines and Japan’s particular similarities and convergence of intents as island countries, strategically-located archipelagoes, and neighbors whose sea lanes of communication are affected by regional developments.

Held since 2006, the back to back meetings have been key to deepening dialogue between both countries’ foreign affairs and defense ministries. Both dialogue mechanisms have proven crucial to crafting complimentary strategies and responses to the evolving security environment, in terms of policies and concrete cooperation. DFA