On April 24, the Sankei Shinbun reported that the US and Japanese governments were considering joint training between the US Marine Corps and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in the Philippines. Leading the likely candidates for where to train are an Air Force base on Palawan, and another on Luzon, according to the Sankei, sites belonging to the Philippine military – the US no long operates its own bases in the country. The Sankei points out that the two governments have also agreed to joint development of a US base on Tinian, a US dominion, where the GSDF is likely to engage in joint training, as well as having several other arrangements around the Asia-Pacific region, with such training aimed squarely at keeping Chinese ocean-ward expansion in check.

US and Filipino soldiers during a joint mock beachfront assault on the shore of Ulugan Bay, April 25, 2012

US and Filipino soldiers during a joint mock beachfront assault on the shore of Ulugan Bay, April 25, 2012 (Source: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

Linked to the scaling down of the USMC presence in Okinawa, the US government is in negotiations with the Philippine government for the stationing of USMC personnel and equipment at Philippine bases on Luzon and Palawan. Both islands are close to the disputed Spratley Islands, one of two major territorial disputes between the Philippines and China. Palawan is also the location of a major annual series of joint exercises held by the two governments named “Balikatan”. This year’s Balikatan, involving disaster response and mock amphibious assault drills, wound down on April 27th.

During the 10-day event, a Senior Leaders Seminar was held before a Command Post Exercise regarding disaster response involving personnel from Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea. At the seminar, MSDF Capt. Yuzo Shibata discussed Japan’s experiences during last year’s Tohoku Earthquake. Two other SDF representatives were present for the Command Post Exercise.

The discussions are in the early phases and are contingent on the US government securing accommodation for its Marines in a country that voted to close all US bases 20 years prior.



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A former contributor to World Intelligence (Japan Military Review), James Simpson joined Japan Security Watch in 2011, migrating with his blog Defending Japan. He has a Masters in Security Studies from Aberystwyth University and is currently living in Kawasaki, Japan. His primary interests include the so-called 'normalization' of Japanese security (i.e. militarization), and the political impact of the abduction issue with North Korea.
James Simpson has 254 post(s) on Japan Security Watch