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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