DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Japan Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida reaffirmed his country’s commitment “to provide support for the improvement of the maritime security of the Philippines” even as he stressed the preeminence of the rule of law – not of force – in resolving maritime disputes.
“Maritime order based on the rule of law is indispensable for regional stability and prosperity,” Kishida said at a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. at the Marco Polo Hotel here yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Kishida met with President Duterte at the Malacañang of the South at the Department of Public Works and Highways compound.
Kishida said Japan – just like the Philippines – is a maritime nation that needs to secure and protect its territorial waters.
He said Japan is ready to turn over vessels to the Philippines to help the latter boost its maritime patrol capabilities.
“So I have conveyed during our meeting that Japan will continue to provide support for the improvement of the maritime security of the Philippines,” Kishida said.
Kishida likewise called on the international community to help in the peaceful resolution of the conflict between China and the Philippines over territories and land features in the West Philippine Sea.
“I have believed that in achieving the rule of law at the sea, the international community should work in closer partnership that is important, like Japan, to continue to cooperate closely with the relevant countries for the peaceful resolution of the conflict,” he added.
Yasay, for his part, said the Philippines shares Japan’s position that rule of law should always be the basis of any action in disputed waters.
“We are one also in articulating such concern and we both have urged China to make sure maritime order and security and rule of law must completely and uncompromisingly be respected,” Yasay said.
“We have the same experience in the East China Sea and the South China Sea – for that matter with respect to certain actions that use force and intimidation and provocation in order to assert one’s claim over a particular territory,” he said.
“So we share the same experience with Japan and we would like to say in the strongest manner everyone must indeed respect our maritime order and security in this area, in the South China Sea, in the East China Sea and urge them to be firm in their respect for the rule of law,” he maintained.
Duterte and Kishida also discussed the West Philippine Sea and various issues over merienda.
Yasay said the Philippines and Japan are vigorously working on strengthening their relations as he cited Japan’s being the Philippines’ biggest provider of Official Development Assistance, accounting for 35 percent of total ODA.
“We have to enhance the momentum between the two countries with high level of exchanges to strengthen and enhance our relationship. This is a very important opportunity for us reinforce our strategic partnership,” Yasay added.