US, Japan echo pledge of defense, maritime cooperation with PH
BATAAN, Philippines – The United States and Japan renewed their pledges of defense cooperation with the Philippines during the 73rd anniversary of the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan or Bataan Day).
The former World War II enemies both vowed to uphold previous agreements with the Philippines in the face of new threats in the region, such as China’s expansion of outposts in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea).
Japanese Ambassador Kazuhide Ishikawa, during the Day of Valor rites in Mt. Samat, Bataan, said collaboration between his country and the Philippines, in the context of security and defense cooperation, has been expanding.
“Our cooperation in maritime security issues based upon the rule of law is a good example,” he said. “Just this January, two defense ministers signed a memorandum of defense cooperation and exchange in Tokyo.”
Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani signed the agreement in January. Like the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement with the US, the memorandum provides for a framework for the defense relations and strategic partnership of Japan and the Philippines.
Both Japan and the Philippines have territorial disputes with China.
Like Japan, US Ambassador Philip Goldberg said it is important to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.
“We want all parties to come together in a way that will bring about peaceful, legal and diplomatic solutions to these problem,” he said in an interview after the event.
Despite its role during the World War II, Japan has become a close ally of the United States.
Ishikawa boasted that Japan has been able to build a “free and democratic nation.”
“Japan has also been contributing to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region throughout these 70 years as peace-loving nations, as one of the best partners of the Philippines, and as an ally of the United States of America,” he said.
China’s reclamation and presence in disputed areas in South China Sea have in the past raised tension in the region. The activities have also prompted other claimants to lodge complaints against China.
Goldberg, on the other hand, reiterated President Barack Obama’s speech during his last visit to the Philippines. “Our commitment to the Philippines under our Mutual Defense Treaty is ironclad,” he said.
Goldberg said the Philippines could expect the assistance of the US against terrorism and during times of calamities.
He said the “great alliance” was the oldest in the region “and one that has helped preserve and protect the security and stability of the entire Pacific region.”
“We are joined in our efforts to protect the security and defense of this region by Japan. Yesterday’s enemies are today’s allies and strategic partners—yet another legacy of the sacrifice and heroism of US and Filipino soldiers so long ago,” he said.
April 9 has been proclaimed Day of Valor to honor those who died defending Philippine independence and democracy. It commemorates three important events during World War II – the fall of Bataan, the fall of Corregidor and the Battle of Bessang Pass. AC
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