By Anna Leah Gonzales

BILATERAL MEETING. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida hold a bilateral meeting on Sunday (Dec. 17, 2023) on the sidelines of the 50th Commemorative Summit of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation in Tokyo. The two leaders agreed to continue coordination to reach an early conclusion of the negotiations for the Reciprocal Access Agreement. (Photo courtesy of PCO)

MANILA – The planned Reciprocal Access Agreement (RAA) which is expected to maintain regional peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, will greatly benefit the Philippines and Japan, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said in a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday.

The bilateral meeting was held on the sidelines of the 50th Commemorative Summit of the ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation in Tokyo.

“We are in agreement that we considered to be extremely significant between our two countries is Reciprocal Access Agreement that will give us a greater capability in terms of not only security but also in terms of disaster preparedness, alleviation, and adjustment,” Marcos told Kishida.

“And that is something that is, I believe, is very, very significant and that it will bring to us greater capacity to maintain the peace in [the South China Sea],” he added.

The two leaders agreed to continue coordination to reach an early conclusion of the negotiations for the RAA.

The RAA is expected to boost maritime cooperation between the two countries as the proposed RAA will facilitate the procedures and set guidelines when Philippine forces visit Japan for training and joint exercises, and vice versa.

Formal negotiations on the RAA were held in Tokyo on Nov. 29 to 30 this year, with the Philippine delegation being headed by the Department of National Defense, accompanied by negotiating teams from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Justice.

During the meeting, Marcos and Kishida also witnessed the exchange of signed agreements which include the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Japan Coast Guard and the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan and the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources in the field of environmental protection.

Kishida assured that Japan would steadily carry out the provision of coastal radar system through Official Security Assistance.

Kishida also committed to further strengthening cooperation in maritime safety capacity building based on the memorandum of cooperation between the coast guards of the two nations.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Kishida also expressed his condolences for the casualties of the earthquake and explosion in Mindanao.

He also assured that Japan is committed to strengthening cooperation for a free and open international order based on the rule of law, with an emphasis on protecting human dignity. (PNA)