TOKYO — The Philippines may soon be getting military equipment from Japan as the Southeast Asian country looks to better defend itself in an increasingly tense territorial dispute with China.
Under the strategic partnership agreement signed Thursday between Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and his Japanese host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the two countries will begin military equipment transfer talks that may include anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and radar technology.
Under the deal, Japan will provide military hardware and technology, while helping to further strengthen Philippine coastal defense.
Japanese media reported that P-3C anti-submarine reconnaissance aircraft and radar technology are possible sale items. A sale of the P-3C, originally designed by Lockeed Martin Corp. and produced in Japan by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, would be Japan's first fully fledged military export since Tokyo lifted its restrictions on such items last year.
Under Abe's push to expand Japan's military role abroad, Tokyo has signed defense cooperation agreements with a number of countries to complement its cornerstone alliance with the U.S.
Japan is already in discussions about exporting US-2 amphibious aircraft to India, and has joined a final selection process to compete against France and Germany for Australia's next submarine fleet.
Earlier Thursday, Japan and the Philippines signed a deal confirming the supply of 10 patrol vessels to the Philippine coast guard so it can step up patrols around South China Sea islands that are claimed by the Philippines but contested by China.
The Philippines and the U.S. have protested China's recent island-building through massive land reclamation on some of the disputed features. Japan, meanwhile, is at odds with China over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.