Japan supports Phl's legal move on South China Sea dispute

MANILA, Philippines - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed support over the Philippines's initiation of arbitral proceedings to clarify maritime zones in the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported on Thursday.

Philippine Coast Guard expects to Receive 10 Patrol Boats from Japan. The new patrol vessels, which are expected to arrive in 2014, are expected to boost the country’s territorial defense in the West Philippine Sea.

Maritime security topped the agenda in the meeting between DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario and Abe at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Thursday, the state agency said.

DFA said Del Rosario's courtesy call further strengthened the strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan, both in a territorial row against China over Scarborough Shoal and Senkaku islands, respectively. The Philippines has filed an arbitration case before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to clarify the issue.

The Cabinet member also briefed the Japanese prime minister on the Philippines's pursuit of diplomatic and political channels to address its maritime concerns.

Del Rosario is concluding a two-day visit to Tokyo, having been invited to the annual Nikkei International Conference on the future of Asia. He also met with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, Japan International Cooperation Agency Vice President Hiroto Arakawa and Representative Katsuyuki Kawai, chair of the foreign relations committee of Japan’s House of Representatives, DFA said.

Japan is the country's top trade partner and provider of official development assistance.


With eye on China, Japan to provide patrol boats to Philippines

Japan will provide patrol boats to the Philippines to help the country bolster its capabilities in the face of China’s growing presence in regional waters.

In a meeting in Tokyo on May 22, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his counterpart Albert del Rosario agreed to work together to improve the capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard.

Kishida said Japan will make arrangements for an early handover of the patrol boats.

The project will be financed by Japan’s official development assistance, the first such case based on a Japan-U.S. agreement in April 2012.

Japanese and U.S. foreign and defense ministers agreed that Japan’s overseas aid will be used to provide patrol boats to Asia-Pacific nations to counter China’s maritime expansion.

The Philippines is embroiled in territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, while Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a row over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

The Philippines requested the patrol boats in December. Under the Abe Cabinet, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which oversees official development assistance, sent a mission to the Southeast Asian country in May.

The government plans to exempt the patrol boats from Japan’s self-imposed ban on weapons exports.

In 2006, Japan decided to provide patrol boats to Indonesia as the first case of arms exports using its official development assistance.

Shinzo Abe, then chief Cabinet secretary, said at the time that the boats would be an exception to the exports ban mainly on grounds that they would be used only to deal with terrorists and pirates.



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