The defense chiefs of the Philippines and Japan have agreed to further strengthen cooperation in all areas.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi made this commitment during a video conference on Wednesday.
“Both officials noted the increasing activities between the two countries’ militaries across all major services and agreed that the Philippines and Japan should further deepen cooperation in all areas,” Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement on Friday.
He added that both officials reaffirmed commitment to support the upcoming activities between “Philippine and Japanese defense establishments”.
Lorenzana, Andolong said, also expressed his appreciation for Japan’s continued support to the capability-upgrade program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
He said the TC-90 aircraft donation from Tokyo is being highly utilized for the AFP’s reconnaissance missions.
Meanwhile, Kishi noted that the transfer of radar systems to the Philippines is progressing smoothly.
Both officials also acknowledged the importance of cooperation in fighting the spread of infectious diseases in light of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Kishi also thanked Manila for its support and participation in the recently conducted virtual Japan-Asean Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Program, which focused on the military’s role in addressing the pandemic.
The two officials also discussed various regional security issues, including the situation in Southeast Asia, Korean Peninsula, and the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea (SCS/WPS) and East China Sea (ECS).
Expressing grave concern over unilateral actions in the SCS/WPS and ECS, both Lorenzana and Kishi underscored the need for all parties to uphold the principles of freedom of navigation and to exercise self-restraint in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.