Press Release
February 9, 2023

Zubiri Pushes for VFA Talks with Japan

With President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on an official visit to Japan, Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri is urging the Philippine and Japanese governments to begin exploratory discussions on forging a Visiting Forces Agreement between the two countries.

"Speaking with Ambassador Koshikawa Kazuhiko last year, I had brought up the idea of pursuing a VFA with Japan," said Zubiri at a media interview at the Okura Hotel in Tokyo. Zubiri is in Japan as part of the Philippine delegation for the President's state visit.

While no formal talks about the VFA have yet reached Marcos, Zubiri sees the President's meeting with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio to be an opportune time to finally go into initial talks about the agreement.

"It makes strategic sense. Japan is an ally, and with ongoing territorial disputes over our waters, we stand to benefit from stronger security cooperation with our allies."

"Japan is already offering vital support to our Coast Guard, not just through vessels and equipment but also through other capacity-building opportunities such as training," he said. "The VFA will strengthen our partnership even further."

"Peaceful diplomacy remains our foremost move toward conflict resolution, but we also have to be prepared for any eventuality. With Japan on our side, we will be able to empower our Coast Guard and Armed Forces in times of conflict."

"Apart from the VFA being crucial to building up our security and defense, it will also be massively helpful to us in times of natural calamities and disasters," Zubiri stressed.

"Let us remember that Japan is just as disaster-prone as we are, and so they have made it a priority to ensure that their armed forces are well-equipped to conduct disaster management efforts and rescue operations. Our armed forces can use their disaster management training and knowledge, to help us become a more resilient country as well.

"Given all the benefits we stand to gain from the VFA, I am hopeful that we will be able to begin formal discussions about it soon, and I am pretty certain that we will be able to garner enough support in the Senate for it."//

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