Japan to supply Philippines with military equipment

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Saturday that the agreement he will sign on Monday with the Japanese ambassador in Manila is not directed against any country but aims to address gaps in the underfunded Philippine military’s capabilities.

The Asian allies began stepping up defense cooperation “even before the disagreement in the West Philippine Sea,” Gazmin said, using the name the Philippine government has adopted for the disputed South China Sea, where its territorial conflict with Beijing has flared in recent years.

“It’s not directed against any country,” he said in what appeared to be an effort to avoid provoking any hostile Chinese reaction.

The Asian neighbors have openly brought their security and political ties to new levels, including by holding joint naval search and rescue drills near the disputed South China Sea last year that angered Beijing.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have exchanged visits and vowed to intensify defense cooperation, sparking talks about a possible security pact that will allow Japanese forces to hold larger drills with Filipino troops in the Philippines. The Philippines has signed such visiting forces accords with the United States and Japan.

Japan will sign an accord with the Philippines to allow Tokyo to supply military equipment to Manila, the first such Japanese defense pact in a region where both have expressed alarm over China’s island-building and other aggressive acts in disputed waters. (Japan Times)

Yoko Ono, the widow of John Lennon, was released from a Manhattan hospital Saturday afternoon after being treated overnight for the flu, according to her son and hospital officials. (pagesix.com)

Japan’s Environment Ministry plans to set up a new national park in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa, the country’s southernmost prefecture, it was learned Saturday. (Jiji Press)

Top finance officials of the Group of 20 advanced and emerging economies agreed at their two-day talks in Shanghai through Saturday that they “will use all policy tools,” including fiscal measures, to achieve the world economic growth and stabilize global financial markets. (Jiji Press)

Railway fans have snapped up tickets for Hokkaido Shinkansen bullet train on its first day of operation. (NHK)

A Japanese government survey showed Friday that 72.1 pct of Ainu indigenous people believe there is discrimination and prejudice against their race. (Jiji Press)

Japan’s education ministry proposed Saturday guidelines on minimum capabilities and skills that it thinks need to be acquired by English teachers in order to help improve children’s English proficiency. (Jiji Press)

An asteroid between Mars and Jupiter has been given the name of Sadaharu Oh, the all-time home run king in Japan’s professional baseball. (Jiji Press)

Kazuyoshi Miura, the oldest player in Japan’s professional soccer league, has turned 49 years old. (NHK)

The driver of a car that plowed into pedestrians in central Osaka on Thursday, killing one and injuring nine others, had lost consciousness behind the wheel due to heart failure, police said Friday. (Japan Today)

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