December 3, 2023

There have been several recent incidents where China has done its best to bully the Philippines in the South China Sea. Those incidents haven’t gone unnoticed by some of China’s neighbors. Now Japan and the Philippines are teaming up to create a new defense pact. Japan’s PM headed to the Philippines today for two days of talks.


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan said on Friday that his country would start formal talks with the Philippines to allow the deployment of Japanese troops to the Southeast Asian country, further strengthening ties between two countries that have embraced each other as bulwarks against China.

“We share serious concerns on the situation in the East China Sea and South China Sea,” Mr. Kishida said, referring to Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions in the region. “The attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force is unacceptable.”…

The proposed pact, known as a reciprocal access agreement, would give the Japanese military access to bases in the Philippines and make it easier to conduct more joint drills.

The agreement won’t be limited to more access and more drills. Japan will also be giving Philippines some very practical help in the form of new radar systems.

Japan plans to provide surveillance radars to the Philippines under Tokyo’s official security assistance (OSA) program, government sources said Wednesday…

The Japanese security aid comes as a territorial dispute between the Philippines and China is intensifying in the South China Sea, leading to a series of ship collisions.

The OSA program is designed to help boost the military capabilities of like-minded countries by providing defense equipment and promoting infrastructure development.

Japan has been providing the Philippines with ships for coastal defense for several years and will continue to do so. Naturally, none of this went over well in China. State media posted a typically overheated piece saying Japan was creating chaos.


According to NHK, Japan has decided to provide the Philippines with maritime surveillance radar and other equipment, marking the first application of the Official Security Assistance framework (OSA) by Japan. This move – driven by Japan’s desire to create chaos and provoke conflicts – will further escalate tensions in the South China Sea, which is detrimental to peace and security in East Asia.

Japanese media believe that Japan’s move is aimed at strengthening its relationship with the Philippines in order to contain China’s maritime military activities. Japan’s shift from Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the OSA framework means that its previous economic diplomacy in Southeast Asia has shifted toward security and defense diplomacy…

The Global Times also published a separate editorial suggesting the Philippines was in danger of losing sovereignty and security to Japan.

Manila should understand that Kishida’s “gift packs” may be flashy, but it is not free, and it comes with a high cost. Let’s take a look at how the former chief of staff, joint staff, Japan Self-Defense Forces (SDF), Katsutoshi Kawano, “envisioned” future defense cooperation between Japan and the Philippines: Japan’s military aid to the Philippines will expand step by step and will change to include lethal weapons such as anti-ship missiles; Manila, in turn, could give Japan access to its military bases, as it does with the US, allowing Japanese SDF aircraft to patrol the South China Sea. If such a scenario were to occur, it would undoubtedly be a nightmare for Manila’s sovereignty and security.


All of this is nonsense. Japan is not a threat to the Philippines but China clearly is. China insists on bullying its way to control more and more of the South China Sea, including portions of it which are within the Philippines exclusive economic zone. Unless Philippines makes agreements with other neighbors like Japan that make it possible to resist those attempts it will be steamrolled by a belligerent and expansionist China.

Here’s the joint press conference held today. There is translation back and forth between Japanese and English so it’s possible to follow the entire thing.