Philippines, Japan to Boost Maritime Security Cooperation

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 12:26 am (UTC-5)
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Philippines President Benigno Aquino is in Tokyo for talks with his Japanese counterpart that are expected to lead to closer cooperation on maritime security.

Japan's Nikkei newspaper said Sunday that Mr. Aquino and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will announce an agreement Tuesday providing for expanded joint naval exercises and regular talks between maritime defense officials of the two countries.

Mr. Aquino said in an interview before leaving for Tokyo that both countries have an interest in maintaining free navigation through the South China Sea, a key sea route for oil shipments to Japan. The Philippines has accused China of interfering with its oil exploration efforts in the waterway, which Beijing claims as its own.

Japan has its own festering maritime dispute with China over potentially resource-rich waters in the East China Sea.

Officials said the two leaders will also discuss an existing economic cooperation agreement with a view to making it easier for Philippine health care workers to find employment in Japan.

Mr. Aquino will speak with business leaders to promote investments in Japan, visit a region devastated by the March 11 quake and tsunami, and attend a luncheon hosted by Emperor Akihito.