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Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Philippines wants rearmed Japan to contain China

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."

Hong's remarks came after a Philippines-proposed meeting among four Southeast Asian claimants to the South China Sea for this month in Manila was postponed. 

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