SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, Philippines (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The brief naval exercise between the Philippine and Japan involved communication training and execution of protocols in unplanned encounters at sea.
The Philippine and Japanese navies on Friday engaged in maritime exercises in waters off Subic to demonstrate freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.
Atsushi Minami, captain of the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF), said the brief naval exercise involved communication training and execution of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea.
“We are very much excited to have this interaction with the Philippine Navy,” Minami told reporters here.
Two Japanese ships
The Japanese Navy sent two warships - the Inazuma and the Suzutsuki - for the drill.
The two ships arrived here on Wednesday for a three-day port call, restocking and maintenance.
Their almost 400 personnel were given time for rest and recreation after conducting counterpiracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.
“It is a very good chance for us to show the freedom of navigation in this area because South China Sea is very important for Japan,” Minami said.
He said Japan’s lines of communication passed through the South China Sea, making regular patrols in the area necessary.
“The peace and stability in the South China are very important to us. On a regular basis, navigating this area is also important to us,” he said.
Minami said the United States, the Philippines, Japan and other Asian countries should cooperate to ensure observance of the freedom of navigation and rules of law in the South China Sea.
“The Japanese government has strongly opposed the unilateral change of status quo [in the South China Sea] by force. Many countries share the same concern in this area,” he said.
The Japanese Navy has scheduled more port calls to Subic Bay, Manila Bay and other areas in the Philippines in the future, he said.
“We already visited India and Malaysia for our counterpiracy operations. The Philippines is our last destination before heading back to Japan,” he said.
Minami also paid a courtesy call on the commander of the Naval Education Training and Command (NETC) in San Antonio, Zambales province.
“We opened our ship to Philippine Navy personnel so they could have a tour here and understand our capability,” Minami said.
In a statement, the Philippine Navy said the visit of Japanese Navy personnel would enhance “the already strong relationship” between the two navies and would “promote camaraderie and naval diplomacy.”