MANILA – Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) chief of staff Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano on Friday said there is a need for the Philippines and Japan to improve their humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR)cooperation.
Kawano arrived in the Philippines Wednesday and will stay until Friday to observe the various activities under the Pacific Partnership 2015 (PP15), the largest multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
“Aside from defense equipment cooperation, Admiral Kawano stressed the importance of capacity building cooperation with the Philippines, particularly on matters concerning HA/DR,” Department of National Defense (DND) spokesperson Dr. Peter Paul Galvez said.
The Japanese military official also acknowledged that the conduct of staff-to-staff talks between the JSDF and Armed Forces of the Philippines would enable the two countries to discuss potential areas of cooperation.
“He also raised the need to share information to address common security issues. He expressed his belief that Japan and Philippines share the same values,” Galvez said.
He added that Kawano acknowledged that the Philippines-Japan Memorandum on Defense Cooperation and Exchanges had served as a framework for increasing high level exchanges between the defense and military establishments of the two countries.
A notable increase was seen since the signing of the agreement.
“Admiral Kawano also expressed interest in conducting more exercises with the Philippines in the future, particularly amphibious landing exercises and amphibious operations. The SND (Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin) has welcomed Admiral Kawano’s interest in more activities with the Philippines, emphasizing that with regard to conducting such activities, a VFA (Visiting Forces Agreement) with Japan would be needed,” Galvez said.
Galvez added that Kawano also told Filipino defense officials that the national security legislation was already in the Diet.
“He shared that the (Japanese) public does not understand the recent developments necessitating commensurate changes in Japan’s security policies but assured that Prime Minister Abe is bent on pushing for national security legislation which could allow JSDF to expand activities with the Philippines,” he added.
“On regional security issues, he mentioned that China is attempting to change the status quo in the region with its reclamation activities. In response, the SND pointed out that stronger defense relations between the two countries will promote security and stability in the region,” Galvez said.