Japan boosts South China Sea patrols with US

Japan's new Defense Minister Tomomi Inada inspects a honor guard on her first day at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo. Inada who holds her first meeting with U.S. counterpart Ash Carter on Thursday Sept. 15

"He desires that our American counterparts should be eased from harm's way", the Philippine military said, adding about 100 us military personnel were in the south to provide counterterrorism advice support to Filipino forces.

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that these patrols "contribute to the safety and security of the region's waters".

While the Department of National Defense (DND) admits, as far as receiving military aid is concerned, the USA has given the Philippines much more compared to China.

"This is a longtime ally", Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said Thursday.

Cook said there has been no official communication between the US and the Philippines on the issues Duterte raised.

"And he's confident, given our mutual security interests in the region, that any concerns that the Filipinos might have - that these are issues that can be resolved and worked out", Cook said.

"Our defense ties have been strong for some time and. there's no reason that they can't continue to be very strong", Cook said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said this week he wants us special operators to leave Mindanao island, where they are assisting in the fight against Islamist extremists.

Speaking in Washington, Inada said Japan's engagement would include joint training cruises involving the Maritime Self-Defence Force and the US Navy, bilateral and multilateral exercises with regional navies, as well as providing capacity-building assistance to coastal nations facing China's maritime expansion.

"Let's not be naive about this, there's no other country that will benefit from our differences with the USA and our other allies but China", said Lauro L. Baja, Jr., a former Foreign Affairs undersecretary who served as the Philippine permanent representative to the United Nations under ex-President Gloria M. Arroyo.

The relocation of the base is a key part of a broader Japan-U.S. agreement to realign U.S. military forces in Japan.

Like other security pronouncements, Duterte did not provide details, but his rejection for joint patrols apparently goes against such an arrangement announced in April by the USA and the Philippine defense chiefs.

Japan, a close US ally, is not among the countries claiming territory in the disputed South China Sea but shares USA concern about China's assertive behavior there.

Among Russia's contributions to the exercise are the 7,500-ton Udaloy-class destroyer and 4,000-ton Ropucha-class landing ship, which can deploy two dozen armored vehicles directly onto a contested beach, of which several can be found in the South China Sea.

The U.S. Navy's port visits to the Philippines have increased significantly this year.

Inada also welcomed the US's plan to allocate 60 percent of its Navy and Air Force assets to the Asia Pacific region by 2020.

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