Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and visiting Philippine President Benigno Aquino agreed on Tuesday to boost sea security in the wake of China’s growing assertiveness over territorial rights in the South China Sea.
Stressing that peace and stability in the South China is common interest to the international community, the two leaders confirmed freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, and compliance with established international law and the peaceful settlement of disputes serve the interests of the two countries and the whole Asia-Pacific region, according to a joint statement issued after their meeting.
Both Japan and the Philippines have separate territorial disputes involving China.
China and its neighboring countries, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and Malaysia have conflicting claims to the resource-rich South China Sea and its island groups.
In his visit to Beijing earlier this month, Aquino and Chinese President Hu Jintao agreed to resolve their territorial row peacefully and enhance economic progress in the region. There is also a long-standing territorial row between Tokyo and Beijing over the Japanese-controlled islands in the East China Sea.
The two leaders also decided to enhance the cooperation and coordination between maritime safety authorities of their countries through such measures as the dispatch of patrol vessels of the Japan Coast Guard to the Philippines for trainings for the Philippine Coast Guard.
Aquino also emphasized the importance of increasing the passing rates of Filipino nurses in the Japanese examination for nurses. Only two Filipino health workers have passed the license exams so far. Noda promised to continue Japan’s official development aid to the Philippines.
At a joint press conference, Noda said Japan considers the bilateral relationship as a strategic partnership with the two countries sharing a strategic interest, expressing hope that the two countries will closely work in regional frameworks.
For his part, Aquino said, “I was satisfied with our exchange of views on regional concerns of mutual interest.”
Aquino, who arrived in Tokyo on Sunday for a four-day visit, also traveled on Monday to the northeastern region that was devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.