Philippines, Japan sign RAA

Philippines, Japan sign RAA
Photo from RTVM

THE Philippines and Japan signed on Monday, July 8, 2024, a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA), a boost in the defense cooperation of the two ally countries.

The inking of the deal, which is similar to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States, was witnessed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. at the Heroes’ Hall in Malacañang during the courtesy call of Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko and Defense Minister Kihara Minoru to the chief executive.

Kimikawa and Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. signed the RRA.

Teodoro said the RAA has brought the partnership of Japan and the Philippines one level higher, especially in the vital aspect of security.

“This is another milestone in our shared endeavor to ensure a rules-based international order to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and particularly in our region,” he said.

“It will also add to the multilateral efforts that both our governments are doing to make sure that our region respects the rule of international law. We work hand in hand in creating a global architecture, which will ensure sustainable peace and stability, particularly in our area,” he added.

Teodoro said the Philippines is looking forward to more confidence-building measures between the Japanese Defense Forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines “so that our shared vision and goals can be realized.”

Kihara said the pact represents the deepening cooperative relationship between the two countries.

“The Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations are situated in a very strategically important region. It is a key junction of Japan's sea lanes. Advancing defense cooperation and exchanges with the Philippines is important for Japan and beyond our bilateral relations. Japan is also keen to deepen trilateral and quad lateral ties such as Japan, the Philippines, United States or Japan, the Philippines, United States and Australia,” Kihara said.

He said Japan is looking forward to working closely with the Philippines to contribute to the peace and stability in the region.

The RAA will allow Filipino forces to enter Japan for joint combat training. The defense agreement, which will take effect after ratification by the two countries’ legislature bodies, is the first pact made by Japan in Asia.

The first formal negotiations on the RAA were held in Tokyo in November last year. It was led by the Department of National Defense (DND) along with the other delegations from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Japan is one of the Philippines’ four strategic partners with 264 bilateral agreements.

In 2023, Japan ranked as the Philippines’ second largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to $20.71 billion. In the same year, a total of 305,580 Japanese tourist arrivals were recorded in the Philippines. The figure is higher than the 99,557 tourist arrivals posted in 2022.

Japan serves as the second home to an estimated 314,428 Filipinos. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)

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