S ource: Global Nation
MANILA, Philippines – The recent bilateral cooperation agreement between Japan and the Philippines is part of the United States’ (US) strategy of rebalancing its forces in Asia, a militant group claimed Monday.
“The US wants a seamless interface with all its treaty partners in the region. This is [why] Japan is enhancing defense ties with the Philippines,” Renato Reyes Jr., Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General, said in a statement.
Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Voltaire Gazmin met with Japan Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto last July 2 in Tokyo and signed the “Statement Of Intent On Defense Cooperation And Exchanges” between the Philippines and Japan.
“This is also why Australia wants to have a Status of Forces Agreement with the Philippines. South Korea, another US ally, is also getting involved. The military forces of these US treaty allies are being mobilized to support US strategic rebalancing of its forces in Asia,” Reyes said.
Bayan said that the current territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over Scarborough Shoal was being used to justify the foreign military presence in the country.
Reyes added that Japan was the most frequent military exercise partner of the US Navy. “The Statement of Intent between Japan and the Philippines was done at the behest of the US,” he said.
The Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) will also now be able to hold military exercises with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Reyes said.
Paragraph I Section 3 of the agreement allows both countries to “participate, including as observers, in training activities and exercises conducted by either participant (country), subject to mutual consent for each of the exercises; and to conduct unit-to-unit exchanges between the AFP and the JSDF, including training activities and exercises on the occasion of mutual ship visits between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF.”
“The Statement of Intent appears to allow Japan to participate in military exercises in the Philippines, similar to what the US is doing in Balikatan, even if there is no existing treaty governing such activities,” Reyes said.
“Either that or the Statement of Intent will be used to justify the ratification of a Visiting Forces Agreement with Japan, similar to what Australia is seeking now with the Philippines,” Reyes added.
“With Japan now wanting to do port calls and military exercises in the Philippines, and with the Australia seeking a Status of Forces Agreement to be able to conduct military exercises, our country becomes one giant military hub for the US and its treaty partners,” he said.