PH, Japan agree to deepen ‘bilateral cooperation’

The Philippine and the Japanese governments on Thursday vowed to increase 'bilateral cooperation' to maintain peace and security as well as to uphold the rule of law in the region.

The commitment was made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu after their bilateral meeting in Makati.

"A survey of the most pressing concerns in the regional security environment is an indispensable element of our strategic dialogue. I was pleased with my candid exchanges with Minister Motegi on issues such as rule of law in the maritime commons and the situation in the West Philippine Sea," Locsin said during his speech.

"We committed to continue our cooperation -- bilaterally and in all possible forums -- to maintain peace and security, stability and the rule of law in our region," he added.

Meanwhile, Motegi echoed the agreements made between him and Filipino top diplomat on the area of maritime security.

"Secretary Locsin and I were able to deepen our discussion from such perspectives and agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in wide areas including security and enforcement of the laws of the seas," he said.

The Philippines, China, and other littoral states have overlapping claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, a vital trade route in the region.

Japan, on the other hand, is locked in a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea over an island chain called Senkaku by Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing.

Aside from the commitment of upholding the rule of law in the region, the two foreign ministers also "reviewed" the direction of the two states' defense and security engagement.

Locsin thanked Japan for supporting Manila's acquisition of new air and maritime assets and equipment to enhance its maritime domain awareness and capability, as well as law enforcement and humanitarian responses.

Among others, they further discussed "future acquisitions" in aid of the modernization of the Philippines' armed forces and maritime forces.

"This is the first of our many meetings which I look forward to having with Minister Motegi. The Philippines-Japan Strategic Partnership has been a positive force, not just for Philippine development and security, but in the best interest of our larger region," Locsin said.

"In 2017, President Duterte described the Philippine-Japan Strategic Partnership as having entered a Golden Age. Minister Motegi's visit adds further luster to that golden friendship which remains one of the region's closest and strongest," he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency