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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Japan sends Lifesaving Equipment Systems as Official Development Assistance for the Philippine Army

Japan is sending its goodwill to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), which is unprecedented considering the Japanese government only lifting the ban on transfer of defense equipment to foreign countries lately.

The Japanese government has sent over 4 sets of Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) Lifesaving Systems through Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippine government.

Apparently, this is the first time Japan is sending defense equipment to other countries through ODA, although the equipment being granted to the Philippines are more related to Search and Rescue (SAR) and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) rather than warfighting.

According to Japanese sources, the Philippine Army (PA) will be the recipient of these grants of Self-Defense Forces equipment.

The JSDF Lifesaving System Type I container shown here with a JGSDF truck towing it. Photo credits to Objec1's Twitter account.

The JSDF Lifesaving System Type I:

According to Japanese reports, the equipment being transferred to the Philippine Army are called JSDF Lifesaving System Type I. 

These comprise several equipment used in disaster response including motorized cutters, floodlights, jacks, acoustic sensors, rock drillers, lifeboats, and other equipment.

A JSDF Lifesaving System shelter deployed. Photo credits to Wikipedia.

The system can be transported by trucks or helicopters as the system is containerized for easy transport.

These equipment could be used during search and rescue operations right after major disasters or catastrophes as it could help save lives and recover trapped victims, and transport them to safety.

Four sets of the JSDF Lifesaveing System Type I were said to have been shipped to the Philippines starting last February 2021, and have arrived in the Philippines as of March 2021.

MaxDefense Philippines is still trying to identify the totality of the system as it is difficult to find open-source information about JSDF equipment.

We expect the Lifesaving System Type I to include rescue equipment similar to those shown above. Photo of SAR equipment of Philippine Army from DRP Forum.

Japan's Growing Interests to Assist Security Partners:

It is expected that an official handover may happen during Japan's Golden Week holiday from 29 April to 05 May 2021, as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will visit the Philippines and meet President Rodrigo Duterte. It would be remembered that Prime Minister Suga replaced partymate and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is said to have close relations with Pres. Duterte, after he resigned due to illness.

It is also expected that the meeting between Pres. Duterte and Prime Minister Suga would discuss security issues in the region including China's aggressive behavior in Indo-Pacific Region, and probably discuss Japan's role in countering this.

The Official Development Assistance of JSDF to the Philippine government represents Japan's commitment to support for capacity building and contribution to improving the security capabilities of the Philippines. 

The value may not be huge, as it is said that the JSDF Lifesaving System Type I costs around JPY120 million, but these equipment are often overlooked by the AFP's acquisition programs that are focused more on kinetic and surveillance equipment.

This assistance is also very timely as Japan tries to help like-minded countries and gain influence against a growing Chinese threat in the region.

While unconfirmed, it is possible that this grant may also be related to the recent contract signed between the Philippines' Department of National Defense (DND) and Japan's Mitsubishi Electric Corp. (MELCO) with backing from the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MOD) for 4 air-defense radars for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

PAF personnel in Japan to inspect the J/FPS-3ME fixed radar (top) and J/TPS-P14ME mobile radar (above) during technical inspections. Photo credits to DND.

More Japanese Grants to the AFP:

MaxDefense Philippines expects Japan to provide more grants and defense assistance to the AFP, although this would be done more discreetly compared to grants from other security partners of the Philippines like the US, South Korea and Australia.

We are expecting the Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) to also provide communications equipment, electronic warfare training and information, and air defense training and doctrine development for the Philippine Air Force although we would not provide more information on this for security reasons.

As part of the Air Surveillance Radar Phase 2 Acquisition Project of the PAF, we are also expecting Japan to have an arrangement for information sharing with the PAF for air defense radar tracking especially in the shared boundaries between Japan and the Philippines were Chinese aircraft operate and use as access to the Western Pacific region.

Some of the new Japanese-made radars are expected to be deployed in the Northern Philippines, right smack where Japan's blind spots are covered.

Map above shows shared border between Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan, as Japanese islands as part of Okinawa Archipelago stretches close to the Batanes and Babuyan Islands of the Philippines. Japan is negotiating for air defense radar info sharing in this region to track Chinese aircraft movement. Credits to original source of map.

These are welcoming developments and signs of strengthening defense cooperation and relations between Japan and the Philippines to support common interests. Despite its past atrocities against the Philippines and other Asian countries, Japan has showed in the past 75 years that it can change for the better.

The grant for HADR equipment is something that would be very helpful especially for a disaster-riddled country like the Philippines. These are equally important items, and are expected to be even  used more often compared to warfighting equipment.

JSDF personnel conducting HADR training with the US military in Japan. Photo credits to DVIDS.

First release: 20 April 2021
Copyright MaxDefense Philippines

1 comment:

  1. This is good news! Thank you Japan! I hope the training for air defense doctrine comes sooner along with a few F-15s if ppssible.


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