PH, Japan explore 'collective self-defense'

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 24 2014 02:58 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2014 10:58 PM

PM Abe says regional situation is 'severe'

TOKYO - The Philippines and Japan are looking at strengthening their security and economic cooperation, with Japan giving defense equipment to the Philippines and invoking the right of collective self-defense in the maritime dispute with China.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faced the media following their summit meeting and expanded working luncheon at the Prime Minister's residence in Tokyo.

In that summit, Abe called the regional situation as "severe." He also affirmed a rules-based approach to resolving conflicts.

"In the face of the regional situation becoming increasingly severe, both nations are closely coordinating. I reaffirmed with President Aquino today the significance of the three principles of the rule of law, which I outlined at the Shangri-la dialogue and at the G7 meeting. I explained to the President about the approaches we are taking under the policy of proactive contribution to peace, namely the drawing up of the three principles for the transfer of defense equipment and the studies which are underway on relationship between the right of collective self-defense and the Constitution," he said.

The prime minister said this is his fourth summit meting with Aquino. He said the discussions were rich in substance especially in terms of strengthening the two countries' strategic partnership as Japan helped the country rebuild and recover after typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

Abe said they also discussed approaches to peace, the transfer of defense equipment as well the right of collective self defense.

On the economic front, the prime minister said the two countries will boost ties as Japan relaxed visa requirements for Filipinos.

"On the economic front, we agreed to boost our ties further so that both sides may grow together. I convey to the President that we could continue to support approaches taken by the Philippines in urban infrastructure improvement and other areas. I also informed the President about the relaxation of visa requirements for the Philippines toward the promotion of human exchange. It is hoped that many tourists from the Philippines would visit Japan," he said.

He added: "The President and I agreed to further strengthen our cooperation and security in areas such as disaster relief, building on the track record of cooperation such as that I have described."

For his part, President Aquino thanked Abe for Japan's assistance after Typhoon Haiyan.

He also recognized the challenge of safeguarding regional security at this time.

"At the heart of this present visit are two important areas of engagement between us: the cause of securing lasting peace and development in Mindanao, and the challenge of safeguarding our region’s security by advancing the rule of law to protect our global and regional commons," Aquino said.

He added, “Japan is a strategic partner of the Philippines. It is thus incumbent upon us to have continuous dialogue as we jointly face the changing dynamics of our regional security environment."

President Aquino arrived in Japan at 11:04 a.m. for his one-day visit to the country. From Haneda Airport, Aquino motored to the old Prime Minister’s residence where he was received by the Prime Minister.

Aquino and Abe went straight to their own summit meeting, which was followed by an expanded working luncheon with members of the delegations of both leaders.

Abe affirmed his country’s support for the Mindanao peace process. Japan hosted a meeting between Aquino and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front leadership years ago, paving the way for peace negotiations that culminated with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro.

The agreement was signed last March but the Executive has yet to file before Congress the draft Bangsamoro basic law, which will institutionalize the agreement.

Japan is one of the Philippines' strategic allies. It is also one of its top donors and top trading partners.

Filipinos comprise 10 percent of all foreign nationals living in Japan and are the third largest population of foreigners. As of December 2013, there are 206,769 Filipinos in Japan, of whom 5,722 have no valid visas.