Japan, Philippines sign disaster relief deal, eye closer security ties

February 9, 2023 - 5:40 PM
Houses and trees damaged by typhoon Rai are seen, in Surigao del Norte province, Philippines, December 18, 2021. Picture taken December 18, 2021. (Philippine Coast Guard/Handout via Reuters)

 Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement on disaster relief on Thursday, a deal seen as a precursor to closer security ties between the two nations at a time of heightened tensions with China.

The deal signing by officials from both sides was broadcast by Philippines state media. It was part of seven agreements struck during an official visit by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to Tokyo, state media said.

Japanese officials previously told Reuters that the disaster relief deal would make it easier to establish a broader legal framework allowing Japanese forces to deploy to the Philippines.

Some lawmakers in the Philippines have called for the country to sign a so-called visiting forces agreement with Japan, which allows them to deploy forces on each other’s soil. Tokyo recently signed such deals with Australia and Britain, and also hosts the biggest concentration of U.S. forces abroad.

Marcos, who said his visit to Japan was aimed at forging “stronger defense and security cooperation” among other matters, last week signed an agreement granting the United States greater access to military bases in the Philippines.

—Reporting by Sakura Murakami in Tokyo and Neil Jerome Morales in Manila; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan