In Maritime Dialogue, PH, Japan Reaffirm Ties Amid South China Sea Dispute
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In Maritime Dialogue, PH, Japan Reaffirm Ties Amid South China Sea Dispute

The Philippines and Japan held their 5th Maritime Dialogue on Wednesday, March 29, in Tokyo where the top nations discussed “issues of mutual interests,” including the “vital waterways” of the disputed South China Sea.

In a statement, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the delegations exchanged views on “West Philippine Sea, Luzon Strait, Sulu-Celebes Seas, and the East China Sea; regional efforts to maintain peace and stability; and climate change”.

“The two countries stressed the importance of the rules-based international maritime order based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Philippines also thanked Japan for its public expressions of support for the 2016 Arbitral Award on the South China Sea,” it added.

The Arbitral Award refers to The Hague ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea, believed by many geopolitical experts as a possible flashpoint for regional and international conflict because of its importance in freedom of navigation and trade.

The DFA said the meeting covered “key components of the two countries’ active engagement in the field of maritime cooperation”.

Japan, for its part, expressed its support for Philippine initiatives to enhance maritime domain awareness and combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as other capacity-building projects.

“Both sides affirmed the importance of rules-based, free and open maritime order and continued to strengthen cooperation in the maritime-related fields toward the realization of a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) and the ASEAN Outlook on the Info-Pacific (AOIP),'” the Japanese Embassy in Manila said in a separate statement.

The maritime dialogue was held after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s visit to Japan last Feb. 2023.

During his visit, he and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio affirmed the mechanism’s importance for maritime policy coordination and the effective pursuit of projects and activities.

The delegations were led by Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for Maritime and Ocean Affairs Maria Angela Ponce and Deputy Director General Hayashi Makoto of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ (MFA) Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department.

Assistant Secretary Ponce was joined by Philippine Ambassador-designate to Japan Mylene Garcia-Albano and representatives of the Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Transportation (DOTr), National Security Council, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Space Agency, and the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.

The Japanese delegation was composed of officials of the MFA, National Security Secretariat, National Ocean Policy Secretariat, Ministry of Defense, and the Japan Coast Guard.

The mechanism for maritime dialogue was formalized in 2009 and was first convened in 2011.

Source : MB