Home International Relations The U.S., Japan, and the Philippines Hold their First Trilateral Summit

The U.S., Japan, and the Philippines Hold their First Trilateral Summit

On April 12, 2024, United States President Joe Biden hosted a trilateral defence summit with Japan and the Philippines in the White House. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. accompanied him. This is the first trilateral defence summit among the three nations where the U.S. has pledged its commitment to defend both nations in times of need.

Brief Context

The three Indo-Pacific maritime nations of the U.S., the Philippines, and Japan share historic ties based on democracy, freedom, and respect for international law and human rights. The agenda of the trilateral summit was to bolster an open and free Indo-Pacific as per the rules of international law and order. In doing so, the three nations aim to contribute to regional and global prosperity. The summit follows a series of meetings between dignitaries from the three countries in 2023, laying a framework based on development, economic security, humanitarian assistance, defence, and maritime security agenda.

Points of Cooperation

According to a joint statement released after the summit, the following were the principal points of cooperation between the three countries:

  • The U.S., the Philippines, and Japan resolved to promote inclusive and enduring economic resilience and growth in the respective countries and the Indo-Pacific region. Filipino President Marcos appreciated the contributions of Japan and the U.S. in boosting the Philippine economy. The three leaders stressed the necessity of a rule-based economic order.
  • The three nations launched the Luzon Economic Corridor, connecting Clark, Subic Bay, Batangas, and Manila. This is the first partnership between the three nations for the Global Infrastructure and Investment Corridor. This corridor would facilitate smoother coordination among the three nations on high-impact infrastructure projects like port modernisation, rail, clean energy, agribusiness, semiconductor supply chain and deployments, and the upgrade of civilian ports in Subic Bay. The Luzon Economic Corridor is, thus, symbolic of enhanced cooperation between the three nations.
  • The three nations have pledged their commitment to developing emerging and critical technologies. The U.S. will provide 8 million dollars for the Open Radio Access Network (RAN) trials and the Asia Open RAN Academy in Manila. This year, the three nations will hold their first trilateral Cyber and Digital Dialogue. The summit also decided to develop the semiconductor supply chain by providing Filipino students better access to world-class training at top Japanese and American universities.
  • The three nations pledged to take action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases following the 1.5-degree Celsius warning limit. They also plan to boost trilateral cooperation in the Philippines in deploying clean energy technologies. The Philippines, the U.S., and Japan are working together towards transitioning to clean energy supply chain jobs per labour rights and environmental protection.
  • President Biden reiterated his commitment to safeguarding security and peace in the Indo-Pacific. The U.S. alliance with Japan and the Philippines underscores their commitment to freedom of overflight and navigation and the necessity of honouring the sovereignty of states within their respective economic zones under the 1982 United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). They also reaffirmed their commitment to boost awareness of multilateral maritime cooperation through venues such as the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness (IPMDA).

Message of Dignitaries

The first trilateral summit among the U.S., the Philippines, and Japan was highly successful and paved the way for a new chapter in maritime cooperation. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida noted on his social media account X: “I participated in the first-ever ????????-????????-???????? trilateral summit meeting. Our three countries, all maritime nations connected by the Pacific Ocean, are natural partners. Multi-layered cooperation with allies and like-minded countries is increasingly important … as we work to uphold and reinforce the free and open international order based on the rule of law. Against that backdrop, we reaffirmed that we will further reinforce cooperation among our three countries. We also set out the direction for that cooperation in concrete terms.” U.S. President Joe Biden also posted: “It was an honor to host President Marcos and Prime Minister Kishida this afternoon for the first-ever U.S.-Philippines-Japan leaders’ summit. We are taking our cooperation to new heights to ensure a free, open, peaceful, and prosperous Indo-Pacific.” Referring to President Biden’s exemplary leadership, the official account of the White House tweeted: “Thanks to @POTUS’ global leadership, today’s first-ever U.S.-Philippines-Japan summit will usher in new era of trilateral cooperation. This partnership will protect American families, keep our economy competitive, and ensure the Indo-Pacific remains open, prosperous, and secure.”

This critical summit between the three nations not only marks the beginning of a new chapter in multilateral maritime cooperation but also advances a step forward to maintain global peace and stability.