Japan has sent a flotilla to Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippine Islands. Now there can be a lot of speculation on the reason for the visit. The most common thought it has to do with the tensions China has created over the Spratly Islands. The stated reason is that it is the precursor to a fleet exercise that Japan and the Philippines had planned for this year. The good thing is that old adversaries are now allies in the defense of freedom of navigation on the high seas.
BY JESSE JOHNSON STAFF WRITER at The Japan Times:
Japanese submarine, destroyers arrive in Philippines for port call near disputed South China Sea waters
A Maritime Self-Defense Force flotilla of three ships arrived in the Philippines early Sunday on a goodwill visit — the first to include a Japanese submarine in 15 years — amid China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
The training submarine Oyashio, accompanied by the destroyers Ariake and Setogiri, made a port call at Subic Bay, home of a former U.S. naval base, ahead of planned open sea drills. Some 500 Japanese personnel, including 55 officer candidates, are taking part in the confidence-building exercise.
Philippine Navy public affairs officer Capt. Lued Lincuna said the three MSDF vessels would be staying in Subic Bay until Wednesday.
The two destroyers are then scheduled to continue on to Vietnam’s Cam Ranh Bay for a similar visit. The trip to Cam Ranh Bay will take the two vessels through the South China Sea, where the Philippines, Vietnam and three other nations are involved in simmering territorial disputes with China.
The visit to the Philippines comes ahead of a much-anticipated arbitration case concerning the legality of China’s “nine-dash line” claim over the South China Sea. Manila expects the court to hand down a ruling before May.
But despite the growing ties between Tokyo and Manila, Lincuna said the visit was “not directed at any other countries.”
“It has nothing to do with China,” Lincuna said.