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PH, Japan in talks over implementation of defense deal

/ 12:38 PM November 17, 2015

On the backdrop of the rising tensions in the South China Sea, the Philippines and Japan are working on the legal arrangement for the implementation of the defense cooperation agreement between the two countries, a Japanese official said on Tuesday morning.

The two countries signed a strategic security agreement in June this year during President Benigno Aquino III’s state visit in Japan, enabling the sale and transfer of sophisticated Japanese military hardware and technology.

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Koichi Mizushima, Japan’s deputy press secretary and spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said negotiations on the details of the agreement between Japan and the Philippines have been launched.

“We are working very hard to do a follow up of the agreement. We still need to do our homework,” Mizushima told reporters in a news briefing in Manila on Tuesday morning.

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and his counterpart Japanese minister Fumio Kishida sat down for a bilateral meeting on Monday on the sidelines of the 27th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ministerial meeting, discussing economic and security issues involving the two countries.
A bilateral meeting between Aquino and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to take place on Thursday.

Although he said he could not disclose the details of the two presidents’ bilateral meeting, Mizushima said hopefully the two countries will discuss the status of the agreement.

He said a legal arrangement is now on the works which will lay out rules on the sale and transfer of technologies.

“Generally speaking, once Japan provides some equipment to a certain country, that country, for example the Philippines, cannot transfer that to another country,” the Japanese official said.

Japan has a similar position in the maritime disputes in the South China Sea which has continued to fester due to China’s massive reclamation works on reefs in the contested sea.

READ: Sea row to eclipse Apec agenda

“China has been conducting large scale reclamation works [and] building military facilities. Even if China was saying, ‘oh we will stop here,’ We cannot accept the accomplished fact. They already changed the status quo,” Mizushima said.

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Japan held a positive view of the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China’s nine-dash line claim which encompasses almost the entire South China Sea, 80 percent of which is part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

“Any dispute should be resolved in a peaceful manner. In the sense, what the Philippine government has done in terms of bringing the issue to international arbitral court is a similar idea,” he said echoing Abe’s one of the three principles on the rule of law.

Abe said during his keynote speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore last year that any claims should be based on international law and no country should resort to force or coercion.

Apart from the United States, Japan is a strategic partner of the Philippines.

Similar to the Philippines, Japan has been locked in a territorial dispute with China over a group of inhabited islands in the East China Sea. CDG

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TAGS: agreement, Apec 2015, Defense, dispute, Economy, Japan, ministerial meeting, Philippines, Security, South China Sea
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