Friday, June 28, 2013

Japan willing to help Philippines defend territorial sea, remote islands

With Philippines and Japan being close neighbors, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Thursday expressed his government's willingness to cooperate in "defense of remote islands as well as the defense of territory or territorial sea."

Onodera made this statement during his courtesy call to Department of National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin at the DND main building in Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, Quezon City Thursday.

The two-day visit, which started Thursday and will end Friday, is Onodera's first on the Philippines.

"We agreed that we will further cooperate in terms of defense of remote islands as well as the defense of territory, or territorial sea as well as protection of maritime interest and we also agreed that East China Sea and South China Sea, we both common are facing concerns and that the issues of those concerns should be solved based on the rules of law," Onodera said through his translators.

He added that as good neighbors, Japan and the Philippines, needs to further defense cooperation.

Onodera also said that during his talks with Gazmin, the Japanese Defense Minister expressed his country concerns over China's behavior in the South China Sea.

"I also said that Japan(ese) side is very concerned that this kind of situation in South China Sea (as it) could affect the situation in East China Sea," he added.

China's movement in the South China Sea has been aggressive for the past years and it is constantly feuding with other states with territories in said body of water.

This includes its claims over Panatag (Scarborough) and Ayungin Shoals which are well within the Philippines' exclusive economic zone.

While on the Japanese side, China has been aggressively claiming the Senkakus Islands which is under the jurisdiction of Japan.

"I heard Secretary Gazmin about various activities taken by the Philippine Armed Forces in this matter and I have told him that Japan, we will cooperate with the Philippine side in this matter and I also learned about the Philippine efforts for United Nations arbitration process (in the matter)," Onodera added.

"Japan is supporting this kind of efforts to resolve this problem," he stressed.

When queried for his side on the matter, Gazmin said that the Philippines is very happy with Japan's expression of support.

"We are very happy to note that the Japanese government is supportive of our peaceful resolution of the case through the arbitration and we have agreed to continue our exchanges of information, exchanges of technology to help each other come up with a, make the defense relations stronger," the DND chief added.

Despite this development, Onodera clarified that Japan is not aiming to keep in check as their stance is to keep their "territorial space, territorial air, and sea space well protected according to their activities."

"(But) this should done according to the rule of law and I would like to emphasize here that the current situation should not be changed with use of force but should be done through the rule of law and I think this the concept that is agreed upon in international communities these days," he concluded.-Philippines News Agency

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