The Philippines on Saturday welcomed Japan’s landmark legislation that will allow its military to fight overseas for the first time in 70 years and respond to threats against its allies.
After its defeat in the second World War, Japan has adopted a pacifist constitution that forbids it to use force in resolving conflicts, except in self-defense.
“The Philippines welcomes the passage of legislation on national security by the National Diet of Japan. We look forward to efforts that strengthen our strategic partnership with Japan and those that would contribute further to shared goals of greater peace, stability, and mutual prosperity in the international community,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement.
Japan’s new law, heralding a shift in Japanese defense policy, came amid rising sea tensions between Japan and China on the East China Sea, and Southeast Asian nations like the Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia and China off the South China Sea.
The Philippines and Japan have an existing strategic partnership agreement — Manila’s second after the United States — that aims to bolster their cooperation on several fronts, including defense and maritime security.
The Philippines and Japan are both embroiled in separate territorial disputes with China that have flared recently. The Philippines is locked in a long-running sea row with China over parts its exclusive economic zone being claimed by Beijing off the West Philippine Sea, while Japan and China are contesting ownership over islands called Senkaku by Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese.
Japan has expressed its full support to the Philippines’ decision to bring its territorial disputes with China in the West Philippine (South China) Sea before an arbitration tribunal that is operating under a United Nations convention.