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Japan, Philippines sign defense agreement amid Chinese regional water assertiveness

KUALA LUMOUR, July 8 (KUNA) -- Japan and the Philippines on Monday signed a bilateral defense agreement to facilitate joint exercises for closer security cooperation, amid China's growing assertiveness in regional waters.
The agreement was signed by Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro, in Manila, witnessed by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, the Philippine Star newspaper said.
Once the agreement takes effect, Japan will be able to participate as a full member in the large-scale Balikatan military exercise conducted annually by the Philippines and the United States near the Southeast Asian nation, Philippine Star added..
The signing of the agreement between Japan and the Philippines comes after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Marcos agreed last November to start negotiations on the pact.
Later on Monday, Kihara and Kamikawa will take part in a "two-plus-two" ministerial security dialogue with Teodoro and Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo. (end) aab.sam