Asia Minute: Diplomacy is at work in Southeast Asia, but so is military preparation
The G-20 wraps up a two-day summit Wednesday in Bali, Indonesia. Many participants will move on to Bangkok for the APEC leaders’ meeting. While this week’s focus in Southeast Asia has been on diplomacy, there are also regional developments in the military world.
About 26,000 Japanese military personnel are taking part in exercises this week with about 10,000 of their American counterparts.
“Keen Sword” involves forces on the ground, some 30 vessels on the water, and more than 350 aircraft in and around Japan’s southeastern islands.
Further south, a senior military official in the Philippines says the government there is open to allowing Japanese forces to conduct military exercises in the country — not just observe them.
That would require a “Visiting Forces Agreement” — moving the government of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. closer to Japan than his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte.
On Tuesday, the Philippines announced the United States will spend nearly $70 million to build training facilities and warehouses at three military bases used by U.S. forces on rotation through the Philippines.
Construction is scheduled to start next year.
The military theme will continue when Vice President Kamala Harris goes to the Philippines early next week, on her way back from the APEC leaders meeting in Thailand.
A senior administration official says she’ll meet with President Marcos to discuss, quote “strengthening our security alliance and economic relationship.”