THERE are reports that the Philippines and Japan, two nations that were on opposite sides of the fence during World War II, are planning to hold a naval exercise again soon. While the Philippines is in conflict with China over islands in the West Philippine Sea, Japan is also engaged in a dispute with the same country over islands in the East China Sea.

It will be the second time that Japan and the Philippines will hold naval exercises. The spokesman of the Philippine Navy would not say, however, where the RP-Japan naval exercises will be held and what kind of armaments will be used.

Earlier, two destroyers from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and one from the Philippines held historic maneuvers less than 300 kilometers away from the Scarborough shoal, one of the areas claimed by the Philippines but which is said to be under Chinese control now.

Philippine Navy spokesman Col. Edgard Arevalo said that the coming “navy-to-navy engagement” envisions to share new tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as best practices, to further maritime operations. These will involve “maritime domain awareness,” search and rescue, and disaster response.

In fact, President Benigno C. Aquino III and Japanmese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in Tokyo recently that the two governments would start negotiations for a transfer of defense technology and equipment. The agreement may include Japanese hardware like anti-submarine weapons, aircraft and radar technology.

On the other hand, the Chinese ambassador to Manila recently said that China and the Philippines can handle their differences and work and work toward a more prosperous relationship despite the maritime dispute in the West Philippine Sea.

In a statement sent by the Chinese Ambassadsor in Manila, Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, he said that they have taken note of President Aquino’s “positive remarks” at the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry II (FFFCCII) anniversary.

President Aquino told the Chinese Filipino businessmen that the relationship between the two countries could greatly improve, so long as it is between the nations and is strengthened by mutual respect, the determination to maintain fairness and harmony, and as firm commitment to the rule of law.

"We look forward to working with the Philippines to further promote bilateral commerce, trade, tourism and people-to-people exchanges so as to make sure our bilateral relations can enjoy a bright and prosperous future," Ambassador Zhao said.

The Philippines and China have exchanged words recently after it was found out that China has been constructing islands on top of reefs in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. The United States described China as building a wall of sand and called for a halt to this activity.