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Philippines and Japan Ink Reciprocal Access Agreement

The Philippines and Japan officially signed a Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) on Monday at Malacañang Palace. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. witnessed the agreement, which lays the groundwork for mutual troop access during joint military exercises in each other’s territories.

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. and Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko formalized the agreement, marking a significant milestone following commitments made during the inaugural PH-Japan Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting in April 2022.

A previous statement from the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCO) stated, “The RAA with Japan underscores our shared commitment to regional stability and defense cooperation.”

Negotiations for the RAA commenced with initial talks held in Tokyo from November 29 to 30 last year, echoing similar agreements the Philippines maintains with the United States (Visiting et al.) and Australia (Status of Visiting Forces Agreement).

After its signing, the agreement will undergo ratification in both the Philippine Senate and Japan’s legislature. This procedural step aims to solidify legal frameworks for joint military activities and strategic deployments.

The signing ceremony followed a courtesy call on President Marcos by Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko and Defense Minister Kihara Minoru, underscoring the high-level diplomatic exchanges surrounding the agreement.

Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero supported the RAA, emphasizing its role in enhancing the Philippines’ defense capabilities to deter potential conflicts.

The signing comes amid ongoing maritime disputes between the Philippines and China over the West Philippine Sea, within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Permanent Court of Arbitration has upheld the Philippines’ rights in its 2016 Arbitral Award, yet China continues to assert claims through its controversial 10-dash line.

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