The Philippines said Monday that it supports Japan dropping its pacifist constitution and acting as a balance against China, while experts say that Manila and Tokyo will join forces more closely on South China Sea issues.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Foreign Secretary Albert
del Rosario said the Philippines would strongly support a rearmed Japan
as a counterweight to "Chinese provocation."
Also on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a
regular press briefing that "China hopes the concerned parties on the
South China Sea issue take regional peace and stability as a priority
and generate more efforts to increase mutual trust and cooperation."
remarks came after a Philippines-proposed meeting among four Southeast
Asian claimants to the South China Sea for this month in Manila was
Manila's support for Tokyo to rearm comes shortly before a general
election in Japan, where the front-runner, opposition leader Shinzo Abe,
has said he wants to revise the country's pacifist constitution,
imposed by the US after the war.
"Albert del Rosario's view reflects Manila's strategy. The
Philippines could not rally support among Southeast Asian countries and
is turning to Japan, which shares a common interest with the Philippines
on maritime disputes against China," Zhuang Guotu, head of the Center
for Southeast Asian Studies at Xiamen University, told the Global Times.
"No matter who wins the general election in Japan, Tokyo and Manila
will cooperate more closely to act against Beijing's territorial
claims," Zhuang said, adding that the Philippines needs Japan to upgrade
its maritime forces.
In 2014, the Philippine Coast Guard will receive 12 patrol boats from
Japan, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported on November 25. Both
Manila and Tokyo have been involved in severe territorial disputes with
Beijing this year.
By Xu Tianran
AFP contributed to this story