Japan ready to aid Philippines' security needs, envoy says
Japan is ready to support the Philippines, particularly on its security needs amid the latter's territorial dispute with China and piracy problem in southern part of the country, Manila's envoy to Tokyo said on Tuesday.
In an interview with reporters in Tokyo, Jose C. Laurel V said Japan has always been supporting the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea as it survives on selling manufactured goods to the world.
"If you go up north, who from the Japanese point of view, who is there? North Korea. Are they friends? They are not...they can be attacked with medium missiles. If you go northeast, who's there? Russia. Is Russia their friend? Not. If they go to the west, who's there? China. Are they friends also? If you go south, who will be first hit? Philippines," he said.
"So, Japan is a trading country. It survives on selling their manufactured goods to the world. They have to keep the shipping lanes open. So their only way out is towards the south. Keep the east Indian Ocean alive and get to Europe. If they want to get to the states then they have to travel towards the west coast of the United States. That is why among others, Japan is very important not only to the Philippines. But the other countries also depend on them. So it’s very simple. You don’t have to think too much," he explained.
"And Japan will support the Philippines in its needs particularly in security," the envoy added.
Laurel noted the Coast Guard ships, jet planes, helicopters and other defense equipment that Japan extended to the Philippines.
He said Japan provided security assistance to help address piracy in the Malacca Strait and the Sulu seas.
"If you have this kind of activity and hinders the shipping lanes, not necessarily China, pirates, all the oil of Japan comes through that area," he said.
He also said most of the crew members of Japanese ships are Filipinos.
"So it is also to the interest of Japan that he supports us and vice versa. So all of this is interrelated," Laurel added.
During the bilateral meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, one of the issues that could be discussed is the South China Sea, the Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said.
Duterte left for Japan on Tuesday afternoon to attend a Nikkei forum on May 30 to 31. Celerina Monte/DMS