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Zubiri: Timely Japan Pact Signing Boosts Defense Interoperability

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Former Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri recently lauded the signing of the Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) between the Philippines and Japan, saying this is very timely and will boost the country’s defense interoperability with the friendly Asian neighbor.

Zubiri, a long-time advocate of the RAA, said the agreement is a partnership of like-minded nations that will truly bolster the country’s naval training and use of ships and equipment purchased from Japan, further strengthening the Philippines’ defense and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

“It was in 2022 when then-Ambassador to the Philippines Koshikawa Kazuhiko and I first discussed the possibility of pursuing a Reciprocal Access Agreement between our countries, and I brought this idea to President Marcos early into his administration,” Zubiri expressed.

“So, I welcome this signing, and I am very hopeful that it will be a key partnership for achieving peace in the region.”

Zubiri emphasized that the RAA signing would strengthen the strategic partnership between the Philippines and Japan, which he described as an “invaluable ally” to the Philippines.

“Japan is already an invaluable ally, and their assistance has been vital to the modernization of our Coast Guard and Navy. With this RAA, we can further strengthen our capacity-building through joint military exercises,” he declared.

Zubiri has consistently pushed for the RAA during various meetings with Japanese officials, including President Marcos’ visit to Japan in February 2023 and the Senate’s own parliamentary visit to Japan in April 2023, where they met with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio.

The Prime Minister, upon the invitation of Zubiri, then came to the Philippines in November 2023 to give a historic policy speech during a joint session of the Philippine Congress. It was in this speech that he confirmed that he and President Marcos were in concurrence over the need to pursue the RAA.

“Our persistence has paid off, and now we can look forward to strengthened security and defense cooperations under the RAA,” Zubiri said.

The Japan-Philippines RAA is an agreement which establishes procedures for the cooperative activities that are conducted by forces of Japan and the Philippines while the force of one country is visiting the other country and defines a legal status of the visiting force. The Philippines is the third country with which Japan signed the RAA, following Australia and the United Kingdom.

It is expected that the Japan-Philippines RAA will facilitate the implementation of cooperative activities, such as joint exercises and disaster relief between Japan and the Philippines and improve interoperability between the forces of the two countries.

As the security environment in the region becomes increasingly severe, the signing of this important security-related agreement with the Philippines, a strategic partner located at a strategic juncture on the sea lanes and sharing fundamental values and principles with Japan, will further promote security and defense cooperation between the two countries and firmly support peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

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