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PH, Japan to seal reciprocal military access deal in July -report

A reciprocal access agreement that would allow the Philippine Armed Forces and the Japanese Self-Defense Force to train in each other's territory would be finalized this July, Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said on Saturday.

In an interview with Kyodo News, Teodoro explained that the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between the two countries would be signed during a bilateral security meeting in Manila.

"It will allow your maritime forces... land and your air forces to train with us in different environments [from what] you are used to," the Philippine Defense Secretary added.

The upcoming meeting in July will also be attended by Japan Defense Minister Minoro Kihara, Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, and Japan Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa. 

Further, Teodoro said the Philippines and Japan would eventually consider holding discussions on a military intelligence-sharing accord called the General Security of Military Information Agreement, which the Philippines was presently also negotiating with the United States.

President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed to start the negotiations on RAA last November during the latter’s official visit to the Philippines.

As both countries were maritime nations, Kishida had said that Japan would work with the Philippines  "to strengthen cooperation in maintaining and strengthening a free and open international order based on the rule of law amid complex crises facing the international community."

Kyodo News said that this will be Japan’s first RAA with a Southeast Asian nation. It also entered into a similar agreement with Australia and Great Britain in 2023.

Once the reciprocal access deal between the two countries is ratified, Teodoro said that Japanese defense troops would be able to fully participate in the annual joint Philippine-US Balikatan military exercise.

The Philippine government earlier invited Japan to participate in next year’s Balikatan Exercises as it only sent observers during this year’s drills.

Philippine and American troops, alongside Australian and French forces,  simulated thwarting an invasion of the Philippines' northern waters during last April's Balikatan.

In late 2023, Japan agreed to provide the Philippines with a 600 million yen (approximately P235.5 million) Official Security Assistance grant for a coastal radar system. — DVM, GMA Integrated News