Japan ready to help boost PH security amid sea row–Laurel
TOKYO, Japan — Japan is prepared to provide for the Philippines’ security needs but won’t go to war over the Southeast Asian nation’s territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea, the top Filipino diplomat in Tokyo said on Tuesday.
In a talk with Filipino reporters accompanying President Rodrigo Duterte on his visit to Japan, Ambassador Jose Laurel V said it was in the interest of Japan, a trading nation, to help keep the South China Sea open to navigation by other countries.
“It survives by selling [its] manufactured goods to the world. They have to keep the shipping lanes open. So their only way out is toward the south. Keep the Indian Ocean [open] and get to Europe,” Laurel said.
China insists it owns nearly all of the South China Sea, including waters close to the shores of the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, and it has built military outposts on seven Philippine-claimed islands in the Spratly archipelago to assert that sweeping claim.
Japan takes no sides in the territorial disputes as it has its own maritime row with China in the East China Sea, where China insists it owns the Japanese-administered Senkakus, five uninhabited islands that the Chinese call Diaoyus.
Laurel noted, however, that Japan has been helping the Philippines build up its defenses by providing it military equipment, including ships and planes.
Japan, he said, also has been conducting joint military drills with the Philippines and joining joint patrols in the South China Sea.
Tokyo, however, has been emphatic on its stance to maintain peace and stability in the strategic waterway.
Prospects for migrants
More than 280,000 Filipinos work in Japan, and Laurel sees better prospects for Filipino migrants in the country.
Last year, the Japanese government introduced new rules to deal with labor shortages in the industries. The rules allow foreigners to work in Japan on special visas but require them to know Japanese.
Laurel said he saw no problem for Filipinos, who are sought-after in Japan for caregiving, nursing, information technology and engineering.
The Philippine Embassy in Tokyo plans to open a consulate in Nagoya, a manufacturing center, where more Filipinos are expected to go for industrial jobs. —Julie M. Aurelio
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