Japan, Philippines Sign New Military Pact Aimed at China

The US is encouraging regional allies to boost military ties as part of its buildup against China

On Monday, Japan and the Philippines signed a new defense pact that will allow the two nations to deploy troops to each other’s territory, a step being taken as part of the US-led military buildup against China in the region.

According to AP, the deal was signed by Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa in Manila during a ceremony witnessed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

The agreement will come into effect once ratified by both nations’ respective legislatures. The deal will foster more military exercises between the two countries, including trilateral drills with the US.

The deal comes a few months after President Biden hosted the first-ever trilateral summit between the leaders of the US, Japan, and the Philippines. The US has been encouraging its allies in the Asia Pacific to boost bilateral military ties as part of its strategy against China.

Last year, Japan signed a similar deal with Australia, which marked the first agreement of its kind that Tokyo has struck with another nation besides the US in the post-World War II era.

In a joint statement on Monday, the Japanese and Philippine ministers singled out China, expressing concern over “the dangerous and escalatory actions” by Beijing at Second Thomas Shoal, referring to a Philippine-occupied reef in the South China Sea that’s also claimed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Since Marcos came into office in 2022, Chinese and Philippine vessels have had frequent tense encounters near the disputed reef. Marcos has been emboldened by the US, which vows the US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty applies to attacks on Philippine boats in the South China Sea.

Over in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry condemned the Japan-Philippines military pact. “The Asia Pacific region does not need military blocs, let alone small groupings that instigate bloc confrontations or a new Cold War,” said spokesman Lin Jian.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.