President Benigno Aquino 3rd and Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are expected to discuss disputes at the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) when they meet today as the Philippines seeks to boost cooperation over the growing territorial rows with China.
The meeting comes as tensions rise between China and Japan, which has accused Beijing of sending an increasing number of ships to assert its claim over Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.
The Philippines has filed a case against China to question Beijing’s nine-dash-line policy in claiming the entire West Philippine Sea.
Aquino flies to Japan this morning to boost the country’s defense and economic cooperation with its strategic partner. His visit includes a meeting with Abe in Tokyo.
The President is expected to brief Abe about the status of the country’s arbitration case contesting China’s maritime claims.
“The summit meeting will provide an avenue for the discussion of recent developments in the West Philippine Sea and for the strengthening of our countries’ strategic partnership,” Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
Gilberto Asuque, Chargé d’Affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo, said the Philippines welcomes the continuing support of the Japanese government, especially in helping raise the people’s awareness on maritime domain.
“For that purpose, the Japanese government has supported the Philippine government in terms of assistance to provide the Philippine Coast Guard with 10 patrol craft,” he added.
The patrol watercraft, called multi-role response vehicles or MRRVs, will be used to increase the capability of the Coast Guard in monitoring the country’s coastlines and in enforcing laws.
The Philippine Coast Guard will receive three MRRVs next year, and seven more in 2016.
Asuque, who heads the Philippine technical working group on the maritime boundary delimitation and a member of the West Philippine Task Force, said the Philippines and Japan share the same view of peacefully resolving sea disputes.
The United Nations, he noted, mandates claimant countries to use peaceful means to settle territorial disputes and states that the use of force and intimidation is not accepted by the international community.