Japan, Philippines plan to strengthen defense cooperation at first 2+2 meeting

Philippine Foreign Minister Teodoro Locsin and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi pose for photos at the Iikura Guest House, Tokyo, Japan, April 9, 2022. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool via Reuters)

Japan and the Philippines agreed on Saturday to consider further expanding defense cooperation amid regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The meeting in Tokyo of the foreign and defense ministers of the two Asian nations was the first of the “2+2” format between the main American allies.

The two countries will seek to potentially strengthen cooperative activities and share supplies, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said after the meeting.

Tokyo and Manila are at odds with China over its conduct in the East and South China Seas, while Russia’s actions in Ukraine and North Korea’s missile tests are also of concern.

Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement to forge closer defense ties in January 2015 and have since conducted nearly 20 joint naval exercises. In 2021, they also held joint Air Force exercises.

Japan has also transferred defense equipment and technology that could help the Philippines bolster patrols in the South China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with China.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also attended the meeting.

Defense ministers met on Thursday and agreed to further strengthen security cooperation by holding joint exercises.

The 2+2 frame with the Philippines is the ninth such cluster in Japan, but only the second in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.

—Reporting by Elaine Lies and Sam Nussey

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