Japanese troops may use naval, air bases in Philippines

Tokyo, June 5 (IANS) Philippines President Benigno Aquino said on Friday that Manila and Tokyo will begin talks to allow Japanese troops to use its military bases for refuelling and logistical needs.

The announcement comes at a time marked by China’s growing influence in the South China Sea.

Aquino, on a visit to Tokyo, said at a press conference that during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, they agreed to initiate “all the diplomatic requirements to come up with a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)”, Efe news agency reported.

Under the VFA, which requires the Senate’s approval in the Philippines, the two countries will also conduct regular joint military drills.

The Philippines already has similar pacts with the US and Australia.

Aquino’s announcement comes a day after his meeting with Abe, when the two leaders also agreed to negotiate transfer of technology on defence, rescue and maritime security from Tokyo to Manila.

Sources from the Japanese government told Kyodo news agency that P3-C patrol aircraft and radar equipment would probably feature in the list of Japanese exports.

Tokyo and Manila are strengthening their cooperation against growing Chinese influence in the South China Sea, where China is embroiled in territorial disputes with the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan.

Japan in turn has territorial disputes with China regarding the Senakuku Islands and fears Beijing’s expansion in the region.

Washington has expressed its concern over “unilateral” attempts to alter the status quo in the region.

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