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Japan and Philippines Strengthen Defense Ties Amid Regional Tensions

Japan and the Philippines have signed a defense pact, allowing Japanese troops to train in the Philippines and vice versa. This marks Japan's first such agreement in Asia, following similar deals with Australia and Britain.

Under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Japan is increasing military spending, aiming to develop a counterstrike capability and shift away from its postwar focus on self-defense. The country plans to double its defense budget by 2027, targeting to become the third-largest military spender globally.

The Philippines, which experienced brutal Japanese occupation, now allies with Tokyo, both nations wary of China's assertiveness. The Philippines seeks a stronger military to protect its interests in the South China Sea.

The U.S. is strengthening its military alliances in the Indo-Pacific, reaffirming an "ironclad" commitment to defend Japan and the Philippines. Japan and China have disputes over islands in the East China Sea, and tensions are high in the South China Sea, with recent clashes between Chinese and Philippine vessels.

The Philippines is demanding $1 million and the return of seized rifles from China. The U.S. pledges support if the Philippines faces an armed attack in the South China Sea.

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