Japan offers strategic aid to PH
MANILA, Philippines — Japan has offered to assist the Philippines develop its own military-industrial complex via strategic technology transfers and outright equipment donations, a source at the defense department told the Inquirer on Wednesday.
The strategic aid was among the matters discussed during working group-level talks on security cooperation between Defense Assistant Secretary Jesus Rey Avila and Takahiro Araki of Japan’s Ministry of National Defense in Tokyo this week.
Tokyo is offering to help Manila develop its own armored vehicles, ammunition and satellites, among others, through a collaboration between and among Japanese and Philippine companies, the source said.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, for instance, has offered to transfer technology and work with a local counterpart to manufacture parts for an entire armored vehicle, he said.
Japan also offered to donate to the Armed Forces of the Philippines an “over-the-horizon communication system,” a system composed of three batteries, which can cover the entire island of Luzon.
The source said Avila also met with the chief of staff of the Japan Self-Defense Air Force on air surveillance operations.
The talks were staged a few months after both countries agreed to expand defense cooperation.
The two countries’ foreign and defense ministers met in April to expand defense cooperation amid concerns over the situations in the East and South China Seas and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It was the first “2+2” meeting between the two US allies.
The officials agreed to boost defense cooperation through defense capability and capacity building, joint exercises, reciprocal visits, and the transfer of more equipment and technology.
Japan and the Philippines signed an agreement to forge closer defense ties in January 2015 and have since conducted nearly 20 joint naval drills. In 2021, they also held joint air force exercises.
Japan has also transferred defense and technology equipment that could help the Philippines boost patrols in the South China Sea, where it has territorial disputes with China.
According to the Department of Finance, Japan is the country’s biggest source of official development assistance over the past 20 years with a total of $14.139 billion in loans contracted.
“We are considering the entry of subvariants in the country. We initially detected the BA.2.12.1 and then, we detected BA.4 and BA.5. These subvariants are more transmissible compared to the original Omicron variant (B.1.1.529),” Vergeire said in a radio interview on Tuesday.
She also likened the current mobility of the people to prepandemic times, where “everyone is leaving their homes,” even as most are still not up-to-date with their booster shots, leading their “wall of immunity” to go down.
“The immunity of the population is starting to wane because of the low uptake of boosters,” Vergeire said.