TOKYO -- Japan will give five military training aircraft to the Philippines at the end of March 2018 to help bolster the Southeast Asian country's ability to protect its coast, Japan's Ministry of Defense said Wednesday.
The deal follows a change in Japanese law during the last ordinary session of parliament that paved the way for donating secondhand defense equipment to developing countries. In addition to two TC-90 planes currently on lease to the Philippines, three more that were scheduled to be leased from next March will also be handed over for free.
The Philippines approached Japan with a request to switch from a leasing arrangement to one where it would acquire the naval planes free of charge, according to Japan's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana agreed to the deal during talks on Monday at the Clark Freeport Zone, an economic zone northwest of Manila.
Japan hopes that the donation of the five planes will enhance the Philippines' ability to protect its waters and help the country better deal with Chinese efforts to build military facilities in the South China Sea.
In September 2016, Tokyo and Manila agreed to the original TC-90 deal that saw Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force lease two aircraft to the Philippines for a year starting in March.