Japan has offered to send patrol ships to deal with a growing piracy threat in the southern Philippine waters bordering Indonesia and Malaysia, a senior Philippine defence official said on Tuesday.
A surge in piracy off parts of the southern Philippines is forcing ship-owners to divert vessels through other waters, pushing up costs and shipping times. Dozens of sailors have been taken captive by Abu Sayyaf.
Japanese vice minister Ro Manabe offered the assistance at a meeting in Tokyo on Friday and expressed readiness to contribute to efforts by the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia “in addressing piracy and terrorism”, said Raymund Quilop, assistant defence minister for assessments and international affairs.
A senior Japanese defence ministry official, however, gave a different account of the Tokyo meeting and said no offer of patrols was made to the Philippines, just “capacity building”.
Leaders from the two countries agreed last fall that Japan would give the Philippines high-speed small boats for its counter-terrorism efforts, but it was not clear if that was part of the apparent offer made by Manabe.
Efforts by the Philippines to strengthen its security ties with Japan come as it seeks to diversify defence relations that are traditionally aligned with the United States, to include Russia and China also.
Source and image: ABS CBN News