PH, Japan sign Reciprocal Access Agreement to boost defense cooperation

THE Philippines and Japan signed on Monday the Philippines-Japan Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) allowing Filipino soldiers to undergo joint combat training with their counterparts in Japan.

The joint combat training to be held in Japan aims to further enhance the two nations’ defense cooperation.

The RAA was signed by Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko during the latter’s courtesy call with President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., who witnessed the signing ceremony.

Kamikawa was accompanied by Japanese Defense Minister Kihara Minoru during the joint courtesy call.

The defense agreement, which will take effect after ratification by the two countries’ legislatures, is the first pact forged by Japan in Asia.

President Marcos expressed elation over the pact signing as he recognized the efforts from both sides. Such efforts have now come into fruition, he said.

“Your presence here increases our confidence and the importance that the Japanese government puts on these extremely important agreements that we have. And I’m very glad that we have come to this day,” Marcos told the Japanese officials.

“So, once again, welcome to the Philippines. I’m happy that you were able to come and visit to witness or to be part of this very important event,” he added.

The Philippines and Japan welcomed the commencement of the RAA negotiations during Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to the Philippines last November.

The RAA with Japan was a commitment made at the inaugural Philippines-Japan Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting or 2+2 in April 2022.

It was reiterated during President Marcos’ official visit to Japan in February 2023. First formal negotiations on the RAA were held in Tokyo on November 29-30, 2023.

Relatedly, the Official Security Assistance (OSA) provided by Japan for the Philippines was signed on November 3 last year during the official visit to the Philippines of Prime Minister Kishida.

Last April, President Marcos had a Trilateral Summit with US President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Kishida, reaffirming their commitment to a peaceful, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific, guided by the three countries’ shared values of democracy, the rule of law, and human rights.

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