Two Japanese fighter jets have landed in the Philippines for the first time since World War II, as part of ongoing defence cooperation between the two countries’ air forces. The two F-15 fighter jets arrived at Clark Air Base, where around 60 members of Japan ’s Air Self-Defence Force have been taking part in exchanges to promote mutual understanding and defence cooperation that began on November 27 and end on Sunday. The jets’ arrival marked a milestone in the history of Japan-Philippines defence exchanges, said Japanese squadron commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Shotaro Arisawa at a ceremony held at the base in Mabalacat, north of Manila, on the main island of Luzon. Colonel Leo Fontanilla, a commander of the Philippine Air Force, said it will continue to work “hand in hand” with its Japanese counterpart “to advance our friendship and partnership and to strengthen both our air forces to effectively and efficiently sustain peace and stability in our region.” Together with the two F-15s, a refuelling aircraft and a transport aeroplane were dispatched to the base, Japan’s air force said. Lieutenant General Connor Anthony D. Canlas, commanding general of the Philippine Air Force, said late last month that he welcomed the visiting Japanese jets, saying the Japanese “are now our allies” who believe in the rule of law. Japan, Philippines to enhance defence ties as China’s influence in regional waters grow During World War II, when Imperial Japan occupied the Philippines for more than three years, it utilised the air field in part as a launching base for kamikaze suicide attacks against American forces. The Philippines and Japan have been boosting defence cooperation amid assertive Chinese military activities in the South China Sea.