The commander of the Escort Division 13th of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) commander encouraged his newly commissioned officers to understand the strategic and cultural importance of the Philippines in Southeast Asia at the Manila South Harbor Pier 15 on Wednesday.
The JMSDF is part of the Japan Training Squadron who visited the country to improve Japan-Philippine relations.
“The newly trained officers just graduated last April in Etajima, Hiroshima, Japan.
The main purpose of these visits is to understand the culture and tradition of the Philippines,” JMSDF Commander Hideto Ikeda said.
Ikeda added that they were in the country for visitation purposes and no training will be conducted with the Philippine Navy.
The JMSDF consists of the vessels JS Shirane (DDH143) and JS Asayuki (DD132).
Ikeda said JS Shirane was composed of 360 persons with two patrol helicopters, while JS Asayuki consisted of 200 persons with two patrol helicopters. Each helicopter is manned by three crew members who are trained in patrol, gunnery, mine sweeping, convoy operations and maritime transportation.
“It is my second time to visit the Philippines. The last time was 30 years ago when I was a trainee like them. I was also a new graduate crew then and the training was conducted on Subic Bay,” Ikeda said. Ikeda emphasizes Japan’s strong friendship with the Philippines and is hoping for future training exercise with the Philippine Navy.
Ikeda lauded the capabilities of the Philippine Navy in maritime self-defense but did not disclose his position on the conflict between Philippines and China over the Ayungin Shoal.
The training squadron of the JMSDF last visited the country on May 29 to June 1, 2012 with the vessels JS Kashima (TV 3508), JS Shimayuki (TV 3513) and JS Matsuyuki (DD 130). The Force’s ships have visited the country more than 50 times since 1966, which made the Philippines one of its most frequent destinations.
Philippine Navy vessels will escort Ikeda and his crew to the training on Manila Bay today, Thursday. The Japanese maritime vessels will leave the country on April 5. After its Philippine visit, the JMSDF’s will go to Guam.