Japan, Philippines sign defense pact with eye on China | Military News

The agreement comes amid shared concern by Manila and Tokyo over Beijing’s growing assertiveness in the region.

Japan and the Philippines have signed a defense pact allowing them to station troops on each other’s territory amid shared concerns about China’s growing military power.

Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro signed the reciprocal access agreement at a ceremony in Manila on Monday.

The agreement will allow Japanese troops to be deployed to the Philippines for joint military exercises and for Philippine troops to conduct combat training in Japan.

The agreement needs to be ratified by the parliaments of both countries before it can come into force.

The agreement comes as longtime U.S. allies Japan and the Philippines are wary of an increasingly assertive Chinese stance in the region.

Beijing claims more than 90 percent of the South China Sea, including waters within the exclusive economic zones of the Philippines and four other Southeast Asian countries.

In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled that Beijing’s claims had “no legal basis.”

The Chinese and Philippine coast guards and navies have been involved in numerous clashes in the disputed waters, including one last month when Chinese coast guard officers armed with knives and spears rammed two Philippine navy supply ships in a motorboat.

Japan has a long-standing territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands, located between Taiwan and Okinawa.

Under the leadership of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Japan has sought to strengthen its military power through mutual access agreements with Australia and the UK.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. strongly condemned China’s actions in the South China Sea and warned that his country would consider any deaths of Filipinos at Chinese hands akin to an “act of war.”

Manila has long-standing defense pacts with Australia and the United States and is considering a similar agreement with France.

In April, the leaders of the United States, Japan and the Philippines held their first trilateral summit in Washington, D.C., as part of efforts to strengthen military cooperation among the three countries.

The summit took place shortly after joint military exercises in the South China Sea, which also involved Australia.

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