By CNN Philippines Staff
Updated 10:02 AM PHT Tue, October 25, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The proposed visiting forces agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and Japan may be discussed in President Rodrigo Duterte’s upcoming trip to Japan, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Monday.
Duterte flies to Japan on Tuesday for an official visit from October 25 to 27. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and business leaders.
“It will be subject to review,” Abella said in a news briefing when asked if the VFA would be on the President’s agenda in his meeting with the Japanese prime minister.
“They will go through all the parts of the relationship between the two nations,” said the spokesman, adding, “I suppose it’s going to be part of the things that will be talked about.”
In June, former President Benigno Aquino III and Prime Minister Abe agreed on talks to allow Japanese military to access Philippine bases to refuel aircraft and resupply naval vessels.
The proposed VFA is expected to strengthen the country’s defense ties with Japan, similar to the Philippines’ agreement with the U.S. and Australia.
Japan and the Philippines are celebrating 60 years of the resumption of bilateral ties.
“President Duterte will be discussing security, economic, and defense issues with the Prime Minister during the three-day trip that is seen to continue the Philippines efforts to bolster strategic partnership with its Asian neighbors,” Abella said.
Early this year, Japan signed an agreement to supply the Philippines with patrol vessels and military equipment for securing the South China Sea.
One of 10 patrol vessels given to the Philippines under Japan’s Official Development Assistance has been turned over to the Philippine coast guard earlier this month. Another nine vessels are to be released over the next few months until 2018.
The Philippines and Japan both face territorial disputes with China. They are contesting China’s claims in the South and East China seas, respectively.
The Presidential Communications Office Assistant Secretary Ana Marie Banaag added that the president will observe the Japanese shipbuilding process.
CNN Philippines’ Ina Andolong contributed to this report.