Two Japanese destroyers and a submarine have arrived to the major Philippine port of Subic, , the first in 15 years, to uphold “peace and stability” in the region, the Philippine Navy have said.
The port of Subic is located in the vicinity of the disputed South China Sea water routes.
The training submarine Oyashio, accompanied by the destroyers Ariake and Setogiri, made the port call at Subic Bay, home of a former U.S. naval base, ahead of planned open sea drills.
Manila is seeking to strengthen ties with Tokyo as tensions mount over the disputed waterway, almost all of which is claimed by China.
Some 500 Japanese personnel, including 55 officer candidates, are taking part in the confidence-building exercise.
“The visit is a manifestation of a sustained promotion of regional peace and stability and enhancement of maritime cooperation between neighbouring navies,” Philippine Navy spokesman Commander Lued Lincuna said.
Captain Hiroaki Yoshino of JS Ariake said the visit is expected to enhance the already strong relationship between the Philippine Navy and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), and would include confidence building exercises between the visiting Japanese navy personnel and their Filipino counterparts.
China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than US$5 trillion (S$6.75 trillion) in global trade passes every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.