Japanese submarine makes its first call to PH in 15 years

For the first time in 15 years, the Philippines received a port call from a Japanese submarine. It was a gesture that established the growing cooperation between the two countries’ military forces amidst the rising tensions with China over the ownership of the South China Sea.

The submarine that made contact is one of the newest and largest submarines in Japan’s naval fleet. Two Japanese destroyers escorted it into the former United States (US) Navy Base at Subic Bay.

“We don’t have any message to any country,” Captain Hiraoki Yoshino of the country’s Maritime Self-Defense Force told members of the press.

Japan made an offer to help the Philippines boost its ability to monitor the activities in the South China Sea. Japan leased three TC-90 surveillance planes to the country. According to a report by Reuters, the deal is reportedly set to be finalized this month. “This is just an exercise and the main objective is to train the officers,” Captain Hiraoki Yoshino of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force told reporters.

The Captain also added that the ship visits are aimed at increasing the military confidence between the Japan and the Philippines.

There is an ongoing territorial dispute in Asia over the South China Sea. China claims that most of the South China Sea belongs to them. An estimated $5 trillion of ship-borne trade passes there annually. Other countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei and the Philippines have made their claims over it as well.

China is also claiming islets in the East China Sea which Japan claims is theirs. Japan has increased its presence in the South China Sea and has also sent more ships and planes to its allies in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

This week, the Philippine military and members of the United States army started on their drills. The drills include simulating a recapturing of an island in the South China Sea that was seized by an imaginary enemy.
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