Mr. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., President of the Philippines, said on February 12, 2023, that he saw no reason why the Philippines should refrain from a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with Japan if this agreement would strengthen maritime security and provide greater protection for Filipino fishermen. However, Marcos also told the reporters that he would use care in seeking a prospective pact with Japan because they do not want to portray an image of provocation.
Marcos’s first official visit to Japan since taking office occurred after he recently granted the United States of America access to additional military bases in the Philippines under a VFA. According to China, it was a move that undermined regional stability and raised tensions. The VFS makes rules for the rotation of thousands of United States troops in and out of the Philippines for exercises.
According to an official transcript, Marcos told the reporters before returning home on Sunday, that if it will help the Philippines in terms of protection, for instance, the fishermen, that would protect their maritime territory then he does not see any reason why they should not adopt it (VFA).
Marcos visited Japan for five days in order to indulge in closer ties with Tokyo, which in December announced its biggest military buildup since the time of World War Two, which was fueled by concerns about the aggressive actions of China in the region.
Both Marcos and the Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, inked a deal to allow their armed forces to work in collaboration during times of disaster relief. This agreement is seen as a step towards a broader pact that will allow the nations to deploy forces on the soil of both countries.
Marcos further said that he always thought about the need to protect the fishermen. They need to display clearly that they are patrolling their water and to make surety that their maritime territory is recognized clearly. With the United States, the Philippines has the VFA, while Japan has the VFA with Britain and Australia and also hosts the biggest concentration of the forces of the United States abroad.
The military exercises of Japan are held with the United States and the Philippines as recently as October 2022, and the presence of the military in the Philippines could help in encountering the influence of China in the South China Sea, much of which is claimed by Beijing, incorporating the territory that Manila considers its own. Khisida said that Japan and the Philippines had agreed to attempt to establish a framework that would smooth and strengthen the process of holding joint exercises.