Japan, Philippines agree to work together to sign security pact

The defense chiefs of Japan and the Philippines have agreed to work together toward an early signing of an accord that would facilitate joint drills between Japan's Self-Defense Forces and the Philippine military.

Japanese defense minister Kihara Minoru met with Philippine defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro in Hawaii on Friday.

They discussed the situation in the South China Sea, where China is becoming increasingly assertive. They also reaffirmed the importance of realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The Reciprocal Access Agreement is designed to arrange details of joint exercises, such as the handling of weapons and ammunition.

Tokyo and Manila have been increasing security cooperation in recent years, including by signing a deal for Japan to export surveillance radars to the Philippines.

The defense chiefs agreed to further promote cooperation and exchanges in various fields.

Kihara spoke to reporters after completing a series of talks in Hawaii, including a meeting with Teodoro and the defense chiefs of the United States and Australia.

He said he believes building and expanding a multi-layered network among allies and like-minded nations will help enhance deterrence and response capabilities. He also said these meetings have provided an important steppingstone for advancing to a new stage.