Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is reportedly planning to visit the Philippines and India before the end of April through early May amid the brewing tensions in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
Citing government sources, Japanese news agency Kyodo said the planned visits to the Philippines and India are “subject to changes” given the current COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic situation.
Japan is part of the Quad, an informal security group, along with the United States, Australia, and India, which is widely seen as a counterbalance to China’s growing assertiveness in the region.
Suga’s planned visit to Manila comes at a time when tension is building up in the West Philippine Sea following the intrusion of hundreds of Chinese vessels in Julian Felipe Reef, an area that lies within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
On Saturday, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning and five escort vessels have been spotted by the Japanese military while passing through Japan’s key waterways off Nagasaki and Okinawa.
Before he visits Manila and New Delhi, Suga is expected to hold talks with US President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C. on April 16.
The Japanese Embassy in Manila and the Department of Foreign Affairs have yet to confirm and provide details of the planned visit of Suga.