Philippines, US, Japan security execs vow stronger trilateral cooperation

2023 June 19

MANILA – The top security advisers of the Philippines, United States and Japan discussed plans to further improve “trilateral cooperation”.

The first meeting between National Security Advisor (NSA) Akiba Takeo of Japan, NSA Jake Sullivan of the United States and NSA Eduardo Año of the Philippines took place in Tokyo on June 16.

“Recalling the security environment discussed in the recent Japan-United States, Japan-Philippines, and United States-Philippines summit meetings, the three NSAs reaffirmed the importance of deepening trilateral cooperation among Japan, the United States and the Philippines, which share fundamental values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, in order to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order,” the National Security Council (NSC) said in a statement over the weekend.

In the meeting, Akiba and Año welcomed Sullivan’s reaffirmation of the United States’ “ironclad alliance commitments” to both Japan and the Philippines.

“Recalling the security environment discussed in the recent Japan-United States, Japan-Philippines, and United States-Philippines summit meetings, the three NSAs reaffirmed the importance of deepening trilateral cooperation among Japan, the United States and the Philippines, which share fundamental values of freedom, democracy, and respect for human rights, in order to maintain and strengthen a free and open international order,” the NSC added.

The three officials also stressed the importance of enhancing trilateral cooperation and response capabilities based on the Japan-United States alliance and the Philippines-United States alliance in order to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Also, they concurred that a free and open maritime order, characterized by freedom of navigation, and a free, fair, and equitable economic order are essential in the Indo-Pacific, especially given unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion,” it added.

All NSAs discussed a wide range of regional security challenges, including with respect to the South China Sea and the East China Sea, as well as North Korea.

The three also reiterated the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. All three NSAs discussed opportunities to conduct combined maritime activities including multilateral joint naval exercises in Indo-Pacific waters in support of freedom of navigation, and the broader rules-based order.

“The three NSAs resolved to advance trilateral defense cooperation based on the recent progress between the United States and the Philippines such as the four additional locations identified pursuant to their Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and between Japan and the Philippines in discussing frameworks that will enhance and facilitate reciprocal visits of defense and military officials,” the NSC statement stressed.

Also, the three NSAs stressed the need to maintain a free and open maritime order and this was emphasized during the first trilateral joint training among the three countries’ Coast Guards held earlier this month.

“The three NSAs reaffirmed the importance of efforts to promote Maritime Domain Awareness by utilizing Japan’s new ‘Official Security Assistance’ cooperation framework, the Quad’s Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness and other capacity building measures,” it added.

Aside from this, all NSAs resolved to deepen trilateral cooperation in the area of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief drawing on their military and civilian HADR capabilities.

Also, the NSAs resolved to make common efforts to promote economic security and economic resilience.

They also affirmed their commitment to addressing economic coercion in coordination with other partners.

“The three NSAs decided to convene additional trilateral exchanges in the coming months among the National Security Secretariat of Japan, the National Security Council staff of the United States, and the National Security Council of the Philippines, to further expand cooperation and information-sharing,” the NSC added.

Priam Nepomuceno (PNA)