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Saturday, May 25, 2024

PH, US, Japan eye more combined naval training

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The Philippines, United States, and Japan have agreed to conduct more combined naval training and exercises together, with Manila expected to receive support for its defense modernization priorities.

In the Joint Vision Statement from leaders of the three countries, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., US President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio pledged to strengthen their cooperative efforts to promote domain awareness, along with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

“We resolve to advance trilateral defense cooperation, including through combined naval training and exercises between our three countries and additional partners… and by coordinating US and Japanese support for Philippine defense modernization priorities,” the statement read.

Among the initiatives planned out are combined training with Southeast Asian regional partners, as well as Japan-Philippines-US humanitarian assistance and disaster response exercise. The exercise could possibly be integrated into trilateral or multilateral activities, including Balikatan 2025, to ensure the countries are prepared and able to work together through any crisis or contingency.

The three countries also plan to hold a maritime training activity around Japan in 2025, following a multilateral maritime cooperative activity in the West Philippine Sea just last week.

This came after China Coast Guard on March 23 water cannoned a Philippine resupply ship en route to the Ayungin Shoal, causing heavy damage and hurting three sailors. The Philippine vessel was on a mission to provide supplies to the decrepit Navy vessel, the BRP Sierra Madre, which has been aground and serves as the Philippines’ outpost in the area.

The leaders in the same statement reiterated their “serious concerns” over China’s “dangerous and aggressive” behavior in the South China Sea, as they cited the 2016 arbitral ruling that states Ayungin Shoal — a submerged reef among the Spratly Islands — lies within the Philippine exclusive economic zone.

“We steadfastly oppose the dangerous and coercive use of Coast Guard and maritime militia vessels in the South China Sea, as well as efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation,” the statement read.


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