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Japan Seeks Closer Military Ties With Philippines, Vietnam

© REUTERS / U.S. Navy/HandoutChinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015.
Chinese dredging vessels in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea in this still image from video taken by a P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft provided by the United States Navy May 21, 2015. - Sputnik International
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The Japanese government is set to strengthen military ties with the Philippines and Vietnam by increasing the number of defense attaches beginning fiscal 2017.

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Amid aggravated territorial disputes between Southeast Asian states and China over territorial claims in the South China Sea, Japan plans to boost defense cooperation with the militaries of the Philippines and Vietnam. Sources say that Tokyo intends to increase the number of defense attaches to improve information sharing and data gathering regarding China's military activities.

Another goal suggested by the announcement is to reportedly warn Beijing that, by increasing provocations in waters around the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, a counteraction from Japan is assured.

The government of Japan will make necessary budget requests for the year, from April 2017.

As of April 1, 61 Japanese defense attaches were stationed in major embassies and international organizations around the world. At the moment, one attache apiece is stationed in the Philippines and Vietnam, and Tokyo has announced that it will increase the number to two each, beginning in fiscal 2017.

In recent years Japan has strengthened defense partnerships with the two countries, while China has escalated land reclamation activities in the South China Sea.

In the beginning of the year Japan signed an agreement with the Philippines, allowing Tokyo to supply Manila with defense equipment.  

In April, two Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers made a historic port call at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam, which has strategic importance, as it fronts the South China Sea.

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