On Saturday, The United States, Australia, and Canada’s naval forces conducted operations as part of the Japan-led Annualex exercise on Friday, with the Philippines participating as an observer.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Vice Admiral Akira Saito announced that the Philippines was observing the operations, signaling a desire for enhanced maritime cooperation between the two nations.
Japan and the Philippines are overcoming historical tensions, notably stemming from Japan’s World War II occupation of the Philippines, to collaborate in addressing China’s growing regional presence. Despite past resentments, the two nations are forging stronger bonds, as evident in the elaborate state visit that underscores their commitment to closer cooperation.
Saito emphasized the importance of the Philippines, stating that it is a very significant country for them. He expressed their intention to coordinate with the Philippine Navy at every possible opportunity.
In the previous week, Japan declared its commitment to enhance the security of the Philippines by supplying radar systems. Additionally, the two nations disclosed the commencement of talks for a mutual military access agreement.
Saito emphasized the importance of robust collaboration among nations sharing common principles for ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The planned operations are scheduled for 10 days, involving the participation of 30 ships and 40 aircraft, according to Saito.
Recent weeks have witnessed a series of confrontations between the Philippines and China, including a collision in October. Moreover, tensions have escalated in the East China Sea with encounters between Japanese and Chinese ships. Additionally, the Philippines’ coast guard announced its intention to continue regular supply missions to troops stationed on a disputed atoll in the South China Sea, despite anticipating an increased presence of Chinese vessels in the area.