Agreement aims to strengthen military cooperation in response to tensions in the South China Sea; still needs to be ratified

Japan and the Philippines signed a new defense pact on Monday (July 8, 2024) to strengthen military cooperation in the face of China’s growing power in the region. The agreement, called Reciprocal Access Agreementwas formalized in Manila, capital of the Philippines, by the Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoko Kamikawa, and the Secretary of National Defense of the Philippines, Gilberto Teodoro.

This strategic pact allows for the deployment of troops from each nation on the other’s territory for joint military exercises and combat training. However, to come into effect, it requires ratification by the legislatures of both countries. Here is the full text of the agreement (PDF–361 kB).

The celebration comes amid concerns shared by Japan and the Philippines, both U.S. allies, about China’s actions. Beijing claims more than 90 percent of the South China Sea, an area that includes exclusive economic zones of the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries.

Recently, clashes between Chinese and Philippine forces in disputed waters have been frequent. In addition, Japan is in a territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands, located between Taiwan and Okinawa. Under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Japan has sought to expand its military might, establishing similar agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr has condemned China’s actions in the South China Sea, warning that any fatal attack on Filipinos by China would be seen as almost “an act of war”. The Philippines already has defense agreements with Australia and the United States and is exploring a similar pact with France.


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