Japanese defense minister arrives in Manila for 2-day visit

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera arrived in Manila on Wednesday for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening the Japan-Philippine security relations.

Onodera is scheduled later Wednesday to visit the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, a former U.S. naval base located in Zambales province, north of Manila.

On Thursday, he will meet with his Philippine counterpart, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin.

In a press conference on Friday in Tokyo, Onodera said the trip is generally in consideration of the security of Japan and its neighboring countries.

"It is important for the Ministry of Defense to strive to strengthen the relations with these countries of Southeast Asia and the United States," an English translation of Onodera's statement posted on the ministry's website reads.

Japan has been supporting the Philippines in its maritime security capability as both deal separately with China over their respective territorial disputes -- the former in the East China Sea, and the latter in the South China Sea.