Speaker Romualdez, and Speaker Nukaga of Japan commit to deepening defense ties, expanding trilateral cooperation with U.S.

SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez and his counterpart in Japan, Speaker Fukushiro Nukaga have both committed to enhancing the defense and security cooperation between the Philippines and Japan, and expanding trilateral cooperation with the United States during a meeting in Tokyo.

“Our relationship is at an all-time high with the recent signing not just of the trilateral agreement, but of our relationship, of our strategic partnership,” Speaker Romualdez, the leader of the 300-plus-strong House of Representatives, said during his meeting with Speaker Nukaga.

“We thank the Japan government and the people of Japan for all the support and the assistance through the ODA and now through our official security agreement,” he added.

Speaker Nukaga, during the meeting, acknowledged the close relations and cooperation between the Philippines and Japan, saying he is “very glad” that the two countries have “very good bilateral relations.”

He said that Japan and the Philippines share the same values, and it is important to collaborate on so many areas like defense and security.

Nukaga also stated he was the head of the Japan Defense Agency twice, so he truly understands the “importance of collaboration between countries” that share the same values and democracy.

He explained that for him, the “rule of law” should be the basis of security and protecting and upholding democracy, as well as securing the international order.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez meets with his National Diet of Japan counterpart, Speaker Fukushiro Nukaga, at the Tokyo parliamentary building before noon Tuesday to discuss various issues beneficial to the Philipines and the Filipino people. The issues include fair access to Philippine agricultural products, support for infrastructure projects under the Official Development Assistance (ODA), protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Japanese investments, and security partnerships.

Those who joined the meeting were Japan Vice-Speaker Banri Kaieda, Japan House of Representatives International Affairs Department Director General Yamamoto Hironori, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” M. Dalipe, senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr., Deputy Speaker David “Jay-jay” Suarez, House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Zaldy Co, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, House Secretary General Reginald “Reggie” S. Velasco, House Sergeant-at-Arms retired PMGEN Napoleon C. Taas, and other House officials.

During the meeting, Speaker Romualdez noted the continuing improvements in defense and security cooperation between the Philippines and Japan.

He said that the country’s partnership with Japan continues to strengthen, significantly enhancing the defense capabilities and overall security of the Philippines.

Japan has become a crucial source of defense equipment and capacity-building support for the Philippines, playing a pivotal role in strengthening the country’s resilience and adaptive capacity against various security challenges.

A key highlight of this cooperation is the Official Security Assistance (OSA) from Japan. Signed on November 3, 2023 during Prime Minister Kishida’s visit to the Philippines, the OSA grant totals JPY600 million, or roughly PHP235.5 million.

This assistance includes new Coastal Radar Systems, pending necessary approvals and clearances. These systems are expected to significantly enhance the capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by providing advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance functionalities.

“Japan has provided not only radar systems for our Coast Guard but also choppers and ships to expand our maritime assets for the Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy due to the archipelagic nature of our country and many, many miles of shoreline,” Romualdez told Speaker Nukaga.

“We are most appreciative of this assistance and capacity-building that the JICA (provides). A lot of these go to the island region of Mindanao, the BARMM. It has provided a lot in ushering peace, stability and prosperity in that region. It has helped (immensely),” the lawmaker from Leyte expressed.

Speakers Romualdez and Nukaga also discussed in their meeting the trilateral cooperation between the Philippines, Japan and the U.S., citing its crucial role in maintaining regional security and stability.

This comes in the wake of the successful inaugural Trilateral Summit held in April 2024 in Washington, D.C., which laid the groundwork for deepening collaboration among the three nations.

Speaker Romualdez said the Philippines recognizes that trilateral cooperation plays a pivotal role in maintaining regional security and stability, particularly in ensuring a rules-based order in the region.

The trilateral relationship is seen as essential for addressing various security challenges and promoting a peaceful, secure, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

Last year, the Philippines, Japan, and the U.S. began laying the groundwork for enhanced trilateral cooperation.

This initiative culminated in the inaugural Trilateral Summit last April, where leaders from the three nations reaffirmed their commitment to shared values such as democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and gender equality.

At the summit, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., U.S. President Joe Biden, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida explored ways to enhance cooperation in areas of mutual concern.

These included economic resilience and security, inclusive growth and development, climate change, and maritime cooperation.

During the meeting, Speaker Nukaga also hailed the trilateral agreement among Japan, the U.S. and the Philippines, as it is “very important to promote cooperation among the three countries” for the security, safety and stability of the region.