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Japan to provide patrol boats to Philippines

Japan to provide patrol boats to Philippines

Japan has announced that it will provide patrol boats to the Philippines to help the country counter China’s growing presence in the South China Sea and other regional waters.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Philippine counterpart Albert del Rosario agreed in a meeting in Tokyo May 22 to work together to improve the capabilities of the Philippine Coast Guard. Kishida said Japan will make arrangements for an early handover of the patrol boats.
The project will be financed by Japan’s official development assistance, the first such case based on a Japan-US agreement signed in April 2012. Japanese and US foreign and defense ministers agreed that Japan’s overseas aid could be used to provide patrol boats to Asia-Pacific nations as a counterbalance to China’s heighten activities in waters stretching all the way to the southern end of the South China Sea.
Philippine fishing boats have been harassed by vessels from China’s maritime agencies the South China Sea even as Tokyo and Beijing squabble and posture over the Senkaku Islands or Tiaoyutai in the East China Sea.
The Philippines requested the patrol boats in December, and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, which oversees official development assistance, sent a mission to the Southeast Asian country in May to iron out the arrangements.
The Japanese government has exempted the patrol boats from Japan’s self-imposed ban on weapons exports. In a similar move, in 2006 Japan provided patrol boats to Indonesia in its first export of arms under the label of official development assistance.
Shinzo Abe, who was chief secretary of the Cabinet at the time, said that the boats were an exception to the exports ban as they would be used only to deal with terrorists and pirates in Indonesian waters.