Japan is on its charm offensive again.
A report from Reuters last week, has stated that government of Japan will give thousands of helicopter parts to keep the Philippine helicopters airborne. The aircrafts parts that will be received are meant for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) ever reliable and workhorse UH-1 utility helicopters that has been doing interchangeable roles for the country since its acquisition - used as a transport, airborne gunships, or rescue operations in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR).
It was reported that Japan's Ground Self-Defence Force (GSDF) retired older H versions of its Vietnam-era Hueys in 2012, after four decades of use, but retained their spare parts.
Japan has upped its wooing of Southeast Asian nations in a bid to gain more influence against China who has been perceived as a bully in the region since its island militarization in the strategic South China Sea.
Reuter reports that “Military diplomacy is a new means for Japan to confound China's bid for control in the bitterly contested South China Sea as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks a regional military role amid a retreat from decades of state pacifism.”
The value of the parts could not be determined , though a senior PAF said that “"This is a demonstration of the robust strategic partnership and cooperation of the two allies," adding that Japan would deliver around 40,000 parts under the deal.
The chopper supply agreement will be Japan’s first military aid deal since the country scrapped a rule last June, prohibiting Japan from donating military surpluses to other friendly countries.
The Philippines was a recipient of Japan’s with three second-hand Beechcraft TC-90 King Air patrol planes last March of this year. The set up was for the Philippines to have it leased from Japan circumventing a law in Japan since the latter is prohibited exporting military hardware to other countries.
Reuters sources also states that “Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have already asked about taking Japan's submarine-hunting P3-C maritime patrol aircraft, made by Lockheed Martin Corp, as they are replaced by Kawasaki Heavy Industries P-1 planes” and that “there has been some preliminary discussion about it.”
Japan’s role in Asia
“Abe's government believes Japan is better placed than Washington to woo Southeast Asia away from Chinese influence, as it is free from the rules forbidding the United States to fully engage with non-democratic regimes, such as Thailand and Vietnam.” Reuters said.
Some lawmakers from the United States of America questions the Philippines human rights recored under the Duterte administration, prompting the latter to turn to Russia and China for arms supplies.
As per reports, China has offered to date $14 Million worth of military hardware to the Philippines and a standing offer of $500 million as a form of soft loan for purchase of Chinese military made hardware.