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PH, Japan can hold joint drills

YOKOHAMA CITY, Japan – The Philippines is willing to hold joint patrol exercises with Japan in the country’s territorial waters, including the West Philippine Sea, following enhanced cooperation in ensuring maritime safety and security.

President Duterte said he has “no problem” with the proposed drills between Manila and Tokyo after witnessing the maritime law enforcement and rescue capability of the Japan Coast Guard here.

The President made a pitstop at the Japan Coast Guard regional headquarters in Yokohoma before wrapping up his three-day official visit to Tokyo, which he has descirbed as “very productive.”

“The joint exercise? Yes of course,” the President told reporters when asked if Japan could hold joint exercises with the Philippines.

When asked if such joint exercises were discussed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Duterte said: “Well, parang in general terms. Yes, no problem.”

The President, however, admitted that a proposed visiting forces agreement between the Philippines and Japan was not tackled in his meeting with Abe. “Walang na-mention ang Japanese dyan,” he added.

While he was open to receive Japanese troops to the country, Duterte explained that he was actually opposed to the presence of American troops in the country. He said the country’s recent military exercises with the US would be the last. (Genalyn Kabiling)