PH, Japan to further beef up defense engagements

DND officer in charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr. (left) and Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu (right) (Photo courtesy of Japan Ministry of Defense)

The Philippines and Japan look forward to have more substantial defense engagements in the coming years.

This came after Department of National Defense (DND) officer in charge Undersecretary Carlito Galvez Jr.’s meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Hamada Yasukazu on the sidelines of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s official visit to Japan on Thursday.

“The meeting concluded with the two countries looking forward to substantial defense engagements in the future, such as a possible reciprocal visit of Japan’s Defense Minister in the Philippines, as well as the Philippines’ hosting of the 2nd Foreign and Defense Ministerial (2+2) Meeting,” DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement Friday.

The two defense chiefs acknowledged the substantial progress of bilateral defense cooperation, especially on the recent signing of the Terms of Reference (TOR) concerning humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) activities between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF).

“Both sides looked forward to the full implementation of the TOR in enhancing interoperability and capacities (of) the AFP and the JSDF on disaster response,” Andolong said.

Galvez also took the opportunity to express appreciation to Japan for its provision of training, and search and rescue (SAR) equipment for the 525th Engineering Combat Battalion of the Philippine Army.

The same engineering combat battalion is part of the Philippine Humanitarian Team to Türkiye in light of the recent earthquake.

Meanwhile, Hamada discussed Japan’s new National Security Strategy, which was recently published in December 2022 that aims to reinforce Japan’s defense capabilities, including counterstrike capabilities.

Galvez expressed appreciation for Japan’s transparency on its new defense policies, and conveyed that Manila would continue to work with Tokyo in ensuring a peaceful, stable, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.

Both ministers also exchanged views on regional security developments and discussed various areas of cooperation through bilateral, minilateral, and multilateral platforms. (PNA)