News Release

PBBM mulls Japan’s inclusion in US-PH ‘Balikatan’ exercises

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is studying the possibility of allowing Japanese military forces to join the Balikatan military exercises next year between the Philippines and the US following the successful Philippines-US-Japan trilateral summit in Washington, DC.

In an interview with members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP), President Marcos said he does not see any reason not to include the Japanese in the Balikatan exercises, which is traditionally held between the Philippines and the US military.

“Well, Balikatan is traditionally between the Philippines and the US. That’s part of our military defense treaty that we hold these exercises every year,” President Marcos said. “Now, with the inclusion of Japan, and to some of these exercises that we’ve been doing, not only Balikatan, but others, I don’t see any reason why Japan should not be part of those exercises in the future … And, I think that may be something that we can study,” he added.

President Marcos recently concluded a trilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio at the White House in Washington, DC where the three countries reiterated their strong commitment to economic and maritime cooperation.

The chief executive said the inclusion of Japan in the military exercises “is a good move” for the Philippines as it will make easier for the country to work together, to coordinate and focus on areas where the problems are, and maximize the resources.

He added that Japan’s participation to Balikatan exercises will also maintain the peace and stability, freedom of navigation and adhere “totally and completely, and constantly to the rule of international law” particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Asked if it’s possible that Japanese forces be included in the 2025 exercises, President Marcos said the Philippines and the US have to conclude the Balikatan exercises this year first before deciding on the matter. “The Balikatan exercise that we’re coming into now are the largest exercises that we have ever had. The most complex, and it touches on areas that we have never really had to deal with before, specifically cybersecurity, command and control,” President Marcos said.

“All of these things that we did not do before, that previously we had not included in our coordinative efforts for Balikatan. So, let’s go and then after that, we’ll look again, where, how the trilateral agreement has allowed us to more options, to include Japan, and, we’ll see and I, for one, have no objection to such idea,” he added.

It is the first time in nine years that a Philippine president has attended the FOCAP forum. The chief executive’s father, former president Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., started the tradition as he was the first Philippine leader to grace the event 50 years ago. PND