Tokyo, Manila discuss bigger defence deal

This file photo taken on July 13, shows the Japanese Coast Guard ship PLH02 Tsugaru (background) with a Philippine Coast Guard boat (centre) during their annual joint anti-piracy exercise in the waters off Manila Bay, a day after a UN-backed tribunal
This file photo taken on July 13, shows the Japanese Coast Guard ship PLH02 Tsugaru (background) with a Philippine Coast Guard boat (centre) during their annual joint anti-piracy exercise in the waters off Manila Bay, a day after a UN-backed tribunal declared China has no historic rights in the South China Sea.PHOTO: AFP

Japan has begun talks with the Philippines to hand over two large coast guard ships to help it patrol the South China Sea.

The two 90m-long, multi- role response vessels will be on top of the 10 mid-sized coast guard ships, worth 8.8 billion pesos (S$254 million), that Japan is expected to start delivering next week.

The defence deal was discussed in an 80-minute meeting between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida on Thursday in the southern city of Davao.

"Both governments are looking into the possibility of getting two more vessels, this time the bigger ones," Mr Masato Ohtaka, deputy spokesman for Japan's foreign ministry, told reporters in Manila yesterday .

He said Mr Duterte and Mr Kishida also talked about "how Japan can help the Philippines in capacity-building, particularly with regard to maritime security". Japan will also lease four TD-90 surveillance aircraft to the Philippines.

Both countries earlier called on China to observe the rule of law in resolving maritime disputes.

Japan and China are locked in a long-running dispute over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, while Manila and Beijing have overlapping claims in the South China Sea."We urge China to make sure that maritime law is completely respected," said Philippines' Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay.

Raul Dancel

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2016, with the headline 'Tokyo, Manila discuss bigger defence deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe