Japan will build four coast guard radar
stations on islands in the Sulu and Celebes Seas separating the Philippines and
Indonesia to help Manila counter a surge in piracy by Islamic insurgents, two
sources said adding that an agreement to fund the facilities and provide
training to local coast guard personnel may be signed as early next week by
Japanese Prime Minister and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila.
“The seas in that area are an important
waterway for merchant ships traveling to Japanese ports,” one of the people
with knowledge of the plan said. The sources asked not to be identified because
they are not authorized to talk to the media.
Of 30 acts of piracy reported in the
first half of 2017 six involved the use of guns, of which three were crew
abductions from ships underway in the Sulu and Celebes Seas, according to the
Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against
Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). Four attempted abductions in the waters were also
Japan will fund construction of the
radar stations through its Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget, the sources
“Japan is aware of the need to counter
piracy in the region and is keen to help, but we can’t discuss individual
projects,” said an official at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which oversees
The radar stations are part of a wider
aid package that include helicopter parts for the Philippines military,
financing for infrastructure projects such as rail lines and help to rebuild
conflict-torn southern Marawi city after five months of military operations
against Islamic State rebels.
By providing such aid Tokyo is aiming to
deepen economic and security ties with Manila as it looks to contain China’s
growing power. Japan sees the Philippines, which lies on the eastern side of
the South China Sea, as a key ally in helping prevent Beijing’s influence
spreading into the western Pacific.
Abe will travel to the Philippines on
Monday following a two day gathering of regional leaders at an Asia Pacific
Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Vietnam.