PH-Japan defense talks focus on self-reliance
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is seeking to work with Japan to build its own defense industry to develop local expertise and be less dependent on foreign arms suppliers.
Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Japanese Ambassador Kazuhiko Koshikawa met in Camp Aguinaldo last week and discussed the possibility of collaborating to develop a self-reliant defense posture for the Philippines through expertise exchange and research and development on defense equipment, systems, and other technologies.
The Philippines, one of the weakest militaries in the region, first embarked on building its own defense industry during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in the 1970s but lost its momentum over the years due to several factors.
The Department of National Defense has been pushing for a posture that prefers local suppliers to promote limited dependence on foreign support for its defense requirements, but their R&D efforts barely receive enough funding.
Teodoro also welcomed Japan’s official security assistance, a new program that seeks to boost the militaries of partner countries, which includes the Philippines as one of the first beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, former Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines should continue building up its defense capabilities to be a credible security partner in the region amid the growing three-way trilateral security partnership with Japan and the United States.
On Friday, he was honored with the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star award from the Japanese government for his significant contribution to forging stronger defense ties between the Philippines and Japan.
He said the trilateral cooperation was “very beneficial” for the Philippines. “We can benefit from them in the transfer of technology, beefing up our resources and capabilities so we can also work with them.”
“We should be a credible partner of regional security where we can be relied upon,” he said.
The national security advisers of the Philippines, Japan, and the United States met in Tokyo last month and agreed to hold combined maritime activities in the West Philippine Sea amid “unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”
Washington and Tokyo are not claimants in the South China Sea but they have repeatedly expressed concerns over China’s muscle flexing in the region, including the West Philippine Sea and Taiwan.