Philippines receives first Japanese coast guard vessel

BRP Tubbataha is the first of 10 Philippine coast guard ships being built in Japan and supported by Japanese aid.

The Philippines received the first coastguard vessel from Japan on Thursday, as both the countries boost security ties amid their separate maritime disputes with China.

The Philippines coast guard said in a statement that the 44 metre (144 feet) BRP Tubbataha has arrived in Manila. This new coastguard ship will be used for search and rescue, law-enforcement and transport purposes.

This vessel is the first of 10 Philippine coast guard ships being built in Japan, supported by Japanese aid.

Japan and China are in a long-running conflict over uninhabited islets in the East China Sea while the Philippines and Beijing have overlapping claims in the South China Sea.

Apart from Japan, the Philippines has been seeking closer defence ties its traditional allies like the United States and Australia in order to boost its capabilities against China.

The Philippine military and coast guard are the weakest force among the region.

Last week, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and his Philippine counterpart Perfecto Yasay called on China to observe the rule of law in settling maritime disputes.

Last month, a UN-linked tribunal rejected China's vast territorial claims to most of the South China Sea and said that it had no legal basis. The verdict handed a sweeping diplomatic victory to the Philippines.

But China chose to ignore the decision and vowed to protect South China Sea sovereignty. The Philippines and China have been preparing for direct talks to ease the rising tension over the disputed waters.