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The Philippines

Japan to build four radar stations for the Philippines to counter surge in piracy

Sources confirmed that an agreement to fund the facilities and provide training to local coastguard personnel may be signed as early as next week by leaders of both nations

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 November, 2017, 10:40pm

Japan will build four coastguard radar stations on islands in the Sulu Celebes Seas separating the Philippines and Indonesia to help Manila counter a surge in piracy by Islamic insurgents, sources said.

An agreement to fund the facilities and provide training to local coastguard personnel may be signed as early as next week by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Manila, both sources confirmed.

“The seas in that area are an important waterway for merchant ships travelling to Japanese ports,” one of the two people with knowledge of the plan said. Both asked not to be identified because they are not authorised to talk to the media.

Of 30 acts of piracy reported in the first half of 2017, six involved the use of guns and three of those were crew abductions from ships travelling in the Sulu Celebes Seas, according to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia. Four attempted abductions in the waters were also logged.

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Japan will fund construction of the radar stations through its Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget, the sources said.

“Japan is aware of the need to counter piracy in the region and is keen to help, but we can’t discuss individual projects,” said an official at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which overseas ODA spending.

The radar stations are part of a wider aid package that include helicopter parts for the Philippines military, financing for infrastructure projects such as rail lines and help to rebuild southern Marawi city, which was devastated by five months of military operations against Islamic State rebels.

By providing such aid, Tokyo is aiming to deepen economic and security ties with Manila as it looks to contain China’s growing power. Japan sees the Philippines, which lies on the eastern side of the South China Sea, as a key ally in helping prevent Beijing’s influence spreading into the western Pacific.

Abe will travel to the Philippines on Monday following a two-day gathering of regional leaders at an Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam.