Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) – The Philippines and Japan have signed a five-year ¿greater defense cooperation¿ agreement, which aims to promote mutual understanding and trust between the two sides and contribute to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
The ¿Statement of Intent¿ covering the pact was signed on July in Tokyo by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and his Japanese counterpart Satoshi Morimoto, according to Japanese Ambassador to the Philippines Toshinao Urabe.
He noted that ¿things have been going quite well¿ between Tokyo and Manila.
Speaking during the celebration of the 58th anniversary of Japan¿s Self-Defense Forces, held on July 5 at his Makati City residence, Urabe said Gazmin met with Morimoto during the Philippine official¿s recent official trip to the Japanese capital where they ¿discussed greater defense cooperation and personnel exchanges.”
Gazmin and Morimoto ¿signed a Statement of Intent to that effect,” the envoy also disclosed.
Aside from high-level, working level and unit-to-unit military exchanges, the agreement also covers ship visits, policy talks on security and defense matters, education and research exchanges, exchange of information on regional situations and maritime security, as well as ¿capacity-building support in the sphere of non-traditional security.”
The deal also calls for cooperation in international peacekeeping operations between the Peacekeeping Operations Center of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Japan Peacekeeping Training and Research Center, and multilateral frameworks, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum and the expanded Asean Defense Ministers¿ Meeting, the Meeting of Senior Defense Officials on Common Security Challenges in the Asia-Pacific and the Tokyo Defense Forum organized by the Japanese defense ministry.
Under the agreement, the two sides are required to ¿ensure that any information acquired in the process of their defense cooperation is treated appropriately and will not be released to third parties without prior consent of the originating participant, subject to relevant laws and regulations of their respective countries.”
¿Disputes, if any, arising from the implementation of this statement, will be resolved amicably through consultations between the participants,” said the agreement.
According to the pact, ¿the cooperation and exchanges under this statement will commence on (July 2) the date of signature and will continue for a period of five years and will thereafter be automatically extended for successive periods of five years each, unless a participant notifies the other participant of its desire in writing to suspend or terminate the cooperation and exchanges under this statement.”
¿This statement may be modified upon mutual written consent of the participants,” it also said.
In his remarks, Urabe noted that ¿after my arrival here in May 2011, President Benigno Aquino III visited Japan in September.”
¿President Aquino and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda agreed to elevate our relations to a strategic partnership. Since then, many Japanese business and economic delegations, as well as politicians, have visited the Philippines. The exchanges have been very fruitful. In fact, having accompanied the official visit to Japan of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario last week, I am happy to report that all the meetings with our political and economic leaders confirmed how much we share in values, interests and thinking,” he said.
The envoy pointed out ¿the exchanges and dialogues on the defense side are also active.”
¿Since last year, Admiral Sugimoto, chief of the marine staff office, visited Manila. Admiral Alexander Pama, flag officer-in-command of the Philippine Navy, visited Japan. The Maritime Self-Defense Force training squadron paid a port call in Manila and the Pacific Partnership involving self-defense force medics and non-government organizations have just wrapped up a medical mission in Samar,” Urabe added.