Visit by Mr. Yoshihide Matsuura (middle)and Mr.Hiroto Sawada (2nd from the left).
On 17 February 2020, researchers from the National Institute of Defense Studies (Japan) and Pathways to Progress exchanged views regarding the direction and broader regional implications of the current course of Philippine foreign and security policy. The guests from NIDS were Mr. Yoshihide Matsuura, Head of the Asia and Africa Division under the Regional Studies Department, and Mr. Hiroto Sawada, Research Fellow of the Security Studies Department. Also present were Dr. Aileen Baviera and research fellows Dr. Jed Rabena and Dr. Jay Batongbacal.
They discussed implications of the Duterte government giving notice of termination of the Philippines-United States Visting Forces Agreement, which provides guidelines on U.S. military and civilian personnel temporarily deployed to the Philippines. Pathways research fellows explained that prior to the abrupt notice of termination, Philippine defense and foreign policy circles were pushing for a review of the Mutual Defense Treaty regarding clarity of obligations and geographic coverage, with the hope of strengthening the alliance system rather than drifting away from it.
Also discussed were potential spillover effects of the decision, including erosion of the U.S. network of alliances; contraints on the Philippines’ other defense and security engagements with countries like Japan, South Korea, and Russia; strategic implications on Chinese power in the region; and the future of Philippine-U.S. overall relations.
This visit is the second exchange between Pathways to Progress and NIDS, the first one being a visit by Prof. Masayuki Masuda and Commander Michinori Fukada from the Defense Attache’s office, Embassy of Japan in the Philippines. Staple topics of these visits include Indo-Pacific security, Philippine-Japan security cooperation, and regional security architecture. NIDS is the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s core policy research unit on strategic and military studies, while also serving as a training institution for high-level officials of the Self-Defense Forces.