TOKYO, — The Philippines is poised to become the biggest recipient of Japan’s capacity building assistance particularly the transfer of military technology and equipment in order to beef up its own capability in safeguarding its territorial waters in the South China Sea.
“There is a high possibility that we will make such a decision,” Dr. Ken Jimbo, assistant professor at Keio University’s Faculty of Policy Management, told Manila Bulletin in an interview. “We are very sympathetic that we should transfer those technology to the Philippines.”
It was in April the previous year when the Japanese government established three principles that if satisfied would allow for the transfer of defense equipment and technology, marking a shift from what was in effect a prohibition on military sales.
In late February this year Tokyo and Manila signed a defense equipment transfer agreement. This made the Philippines the first Southeast Asian country to have such an agreement with Japan. The agreement promotes the joint production and development of defense equipment and technology, and establishes a legal framework providing for this.
According to Prof. Jimbo, this could only be the beginning.
When former president, Benigno Aquino, III, visited Japan last year, he reportedly submitted a wish list to the Japanese government enumerating what equipment the Philippines need urgently to boost its maritime security in the South China Sea. The list included P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, Shirane class destroyers, Hayabusa class missile patrol boats, and Oyashio-class submarines.
“Normally we don’t even have reservations of transferring technologies,” Jimbo pointed out.
However, the recipient, in this case the Philippines, needs to have a better kind of training and operating infrastructure before any military hardware is transferred.
“We should start from the easy part first and then when those organization and human aspects are met, I think we are ready to transfer the P-3C,” said Jimbo whose specialization includes international security, security in Asia-Pacific, US defense policy and regionalization in East Asia. “The P-3C is a high end technology and we really need to have high end training to operate those aircraft.”
“We need time to cultivate those infrastructure before transferring the hardware,” he added.
Probably, Jimbo said Japan will also start from those non-military assistance such as policing or law enforcement. “You don’t have to identify it as military equipment so you don’t really have to go through the processes,” he said.
Jimbo noted that Japan used to rely heavily on its alliance with the United States which is the cornerstone of Japan’s security system.
However, because of the rise of China and the shift in the power balance, Japan has to seek new strategic partners such as those emerging Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries including the Philippines.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force Kawasaki P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft.