TOKYO— Japan and the Philippines agreed on Saturday to consider further expanding defense cooperation against a backdrop of regional tensions and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The meeting in Tokyo of the two Asian nations’ foreign and defense ministers was the first in the “2+2” format between the key U.S. allies.
The two countries will look at potentially enhancing cooperative activity and sharing supplies, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said after the meeting.
Tokyo and Manila have been at odds with China over its conduct in the East and South China Seas, while Russia’s actions in Ukraine and North Korea’s missile tests also of mutual concern.
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.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana also attended the meeting.
The defense ministers met on Thursday and agreed to further boost security cooperation by conducting joint exercises.
The 2+2 framework with the Philippines is Japan’s ninth such grouping but only the second in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.
—Reporting by Elaine Lies and Sam Nussey