Japan increases military aid to Philippines, provides SDF equipment for the first time

Japan has stepped up its assistance to the Philippine military, providing self-defense force equipment to foreign troops for the first time.

Japan has begun providing the Philippine military with life-saving equipment used by Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, Kyodo News said on April 4, citing a Japanese Foreign Ministry official.

Kyodo News said a shift in Japan’s overseas aid policy in 2015 allowed the Japanese government to use the ODA program to provide non-combat assistance to foreign troops for disaster relief, infrastructure and maritime security.

Japan signed a $100 million defense cooperation agreement with the Philippine government last August, allowing Japan’s Mitsubishi Electric to export an air defense radar system to the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The Japanese side will also provide the Philippine military with disaster relief tools worth $1.1 million, including handheld drills (jackhammer), sonar and engine cutter (engine cutter) used by the Japanese Self-Defense Force.

Japan’s defense ministry said that after the delivery of these materials, it will send Japanese Land Self-Defense Force personnel to train the Philippine military on the use of these materials.

The Philippines commissioned a total of 10 Japan-built 44-meter patrol boats for use by the Philippine Maritime Self-Defense Force from 2016 to 2018, and two other 94-meter-long patrol boats are scheduled for deployment around 2022, Kyodo said.

Kyodo News said Japan has been strengthening defense and security cooperation with the Philippines. A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said, “We hope the assistance will deepen bilateral ties with this strategically important regional partner.”