Japanese minesweeper vessels arrive in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – The two vessels of the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Minesweeper Division 51 arrived in Manila on Wednesday, March 2, for a 3-day goodwill visit, as the Philippines and Japan continued to strengthen their defense cooperation.

Two ships make up the division, which is headed by Captain Toshiro Takaiwa: the Japanese Ship Uraga and the Japanese Ship Takashima. Both are minesweeper-class vessels used for hunting down naval mines. 

The Philippine Navy welcomed the delegates in a ceremony headed by Captain Rolando Sarmiento, the superintendent of the Naval Combat Engineering Brigade Training Center.

He also had a port briefing on security, safety, and health with his Japanese counterparts aboard the Uraga.

Personnel from the Philippine Fleet and the Naval Sea Systems Command also took a shipboard tour aboard the two Japanese ships.

They said the visit aims to promote regional peace and stability and enhance maritime cooperation between the two countries.

Delegation head Captain Takaiwa, along with the two commanding officers and Japanese Defense Attaché to the Philippines Colonel Hideki Tanaka, will render a courtesy call to Vice Admiral Caesar Taccad, the flag officer in command of the Philippine Navy.

The Philippines and Japan have had previous engagements, including maritime drills back in June 2015. 

Admiral Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of Japan's military, was also in the Philippines last August for Pacific Partnertship 2015, an annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission.

This visit is expected to enhance the relationship between the Philippine Navy and the JMSDF, and to promote regional peace and stability and the enhancement of maritime cooperation between the neighboring navies. – Rappler.com