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Japan’s PM excursions Philippine patrol ship and boosts alliances amid maritime tensions

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MANILA, Philippines — Japan’s prime minister boarded a Philippine patrol ship on Saturday in a symbolic present of assist as Tokyo shores up regional alliances to counter China‘s assertiveness in maritime disputes with its neighbors.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s go to to the Japanese-built BRP Teresa Magbanua, which was docked on the Manila harbor, capped his two-day go to to Manila. He held talks with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Friday to strengthen protection ties amid their international locations’ shared concern over China’s habits.

“I really hope that this can result in regional peace and prosperity in addition to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Keshida advised high Philippine authorities and coast guard officers aboard the Magbanua, one of many two greatest patrol ships of Manila’s underfunded coast guard.

Japan has supplied a dozen patrol ships to the Philippines in recent times, together with the 97-meter (318-foot) -long Magbanua. Manila’s coast guard largely makes use of the ships for sovereignty patrols and to move provides and rotating navy and marine personnel to 9 Philippines-occupied island, islets and reefs within the strategic South China Sea.

That has put the Philippine ships on a collision course with China’s large coast guard and navy fleets within the South China Sea, which China claims nearly in its entirety. Apart from China and the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan additionally lay declare to components of or the whole sea passage, a key international commerce route.

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The Philippines has strongly protested the Chinese language coast guard’s use of blinding laser gentle and water cannon in separate incidents this yr and its blockade that led to 2 minor collisions final month close to the disputed Second Thomas Shoal.

In August, because the Magbanua tried to strategy the shoal, which has been surrounded for years by China’s vessels, its crew noticed a Chinese language coast guard ship maneuver into blocking place with its 70 mm armament uncovered, in keeping with the Philippine coast guard.

Of their talks on Friday in Manila, Kishida and Marcos agreed to begin negotiations for a key protection pact referred to as the Reciprocal Entry Settlement that might permit their troops to enter one another’s territory for joint navy workouts.

The Japanese premier additionally introduced that coastal surveillance radars could be supplied to the Philippine navy below a brand new safety grant program that goals to assist strengthen the militaries of pleasant international locations..

Japan has had a longstanding territorial dispute with China over islands within the East China Sea.

Within the first-ever speech by a Japanese premier earlier than a joint session of the Philippine Congress on Saturday, Kishida pledged to proceed serving to bolster the aptitude of the Philippine navy and maritime companies.

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