PH, Japan hold first joint foreign affairs, defense ministerial meeting in Tokyo

The Philippines and Japan held the inaugural Japan-Philippines Foreign and Defense Ministerial Meeting or “2+2,” which both sides described as a “fitting next step to lay the foundations for the second decade of the bilateral Strategic Partnership.”

Photos from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan

In a joint statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, and Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo met in Tokyo on April 9 for the discussions.

According to the DFA, the ministers welcomed the 2+2 as a critical instrument for advancing bilateral security and defense cooperation amid long-standing and emerging regional peace and stability challenges.

“During the meeting, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen further the bilateral Strategic Partnership based on common interests and the shared values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, respect for human rights, and a free and open economy,” the joint statement read.

“In light of the increasingly severe security environment, the Ministers emphasized the need to strengthen dialogue between the two countries,” it furthered.

The four ministers resolved to increase the defense capabilities of their own countries and further strengthen overall defense relations through defense capacity and capability building, reciprocal port calls/ship visits, transfer of more defense equipment and technology, and continuous cooperation on previously-transferred defense equipment.

They likewise concurred to start considering ways to enhance further and facilitate cooperation, such as exercises between Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including frameworks to facilitate their reciprocal visits and reciprocal provision of supplies and services in the field of logistical support.

In light of a strong US presence in regional stability, the ministers underscored the importance of each country’s treaty alliance with the United States and enhanced cooperation with regional partner countries.

Maritime law enforcement

The ministers recognized the importance of Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) and maritime law enforcement based on international law, particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which are vital elements for regional peace and prosperity. The Philippines welcomed the enhancement of its maritime law enforcement capabilities, including the procurement of its largest patrol vessels from Japan.

However, they expressed grave concern about the East and South China Seas situation and strongly opposed actions that may increase tensions.

“The Ministers underscored the importance of peace and stability in the region and the security of its seas,” the joint statement read.

The ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight in the East and South China Seas and a rules-based approach to resolving competing claims in maritime areas within the framework of international law, in particular UNCLOS.

“Japan concurred with the Philippines’ long-standing objections to unlawful maritime claims, militarization, coercive activities, and the threat or use of force in the South China Sea, and expressed its support for the July 2016 arbitral award on the South China Sea,” it added.

“The Philippines emphasized that the arbitral award on the South China Sea is final and legally binding. The Ministers called for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea consistent with UNCLOS and not prejudicial to the legitimate rights of all stakeholders in the South China Sea,” it furthered.

On the other hand, the ministers confirmed the importance of the Sulu-Celebes Seas and their surrounding areas, concurring on enhancing cooperation in maritime connectivity and safety, infrastructure, and human resources development.


The Ministers likewise recognized the importance of cybersecurity and expressed concern about the misuse and abuse of critical and emerging technologies, including digital and information technology, and emphasized that these technologies should be promoted according to our shared values.

They concurred on the need to strengthen cooperation in the field of cyber security and supply chain resiliency, noting the importance of an open and competitive marketplace in the telecommunications technology supply chain, promotion of telecommunications supplier diversity, and a secure, open, and transparent telecommunication infrastructure, such as 5G, among others.

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