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Japan boosts int’l coast guard diplomacy in PH-SEA waters

By Roy Mabasa

A Filipino coast guard officer has cited Japan’s role and support in promoting “coast guard diplomacy” to the Philippines and to the Southeast Asian region, in view of the developing issues and challenges.

Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Lieutenant Commander Jay Tristan Tarriela conveyed view of Japan amid regional maritime issues such as the South China Sea, non-traditional security threats, piracy, and terrorism at a recent lecture on “Coast Guards in Asia” at the Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC).

Tarriela is currently a post-graduate scholar on Global Governance under the Knowledge Co-Creation Program (KCCP) Long-Term Scholarship of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

“Japan plays a key role in promoting coast guard diplomacy in Southeast Asia. In fact, Japan’s assistance through JICA’s cooperation with the Philippines to professionalize PCG personnel is important for our country since we are an archipelagic and maritime nation. More than 90% of our domestic trade passes through the seas, and ensuring the safety of those sea lanes is vital to the Philippine economy,” Tarriela said.

He explained that coast guard diplomacy is developing in Southeast Asia because of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the conflicting claims on the South China Sea, non-traditional security threats, piracy, and terrorism.

The PCG officer also cited Japan’s assistance in the region through maritime safety and security programs, provision of equipment and patrol vessels, and meetings and conferences on coast guard systems.

In the Philippines, the Japanese government thru JICA has been assisting the PCG through a Maritime Safety Capability Improvement Project to improve the country’s response capacity to coastal maritime incidents and search and rescue and improve the PCG’s capability on maritime law enforcement.

Over the past years, Japan has provided the PCG with 18.732 billion yen Official Development Assistance (ODA) for ten multi-role response vessels, training of over 200 PCG personnel on maritime law enforcement, maritime security and safety, search and rescue, and environment protection, and recently a 16.455 billion yen ODA for two 90-meter class MRRVs.