Baku, August 18, AZERTAC
Japan on Thursday delivered to the Philippines the first of 10 coastguard vessels to help it improve its maritime security and law enforcement in the South China Sea where tension has been rising over a territorial dispute with China, according to Reuters.
China claims almost the entire South China Sea where about $5 trillion worth of sea-borne trade passes every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea believed to have rich deposits of oil and gas.
Japan has no claims in the waterway but worries about China's growing military reach across sea lanes through which much of Japan's trade passes.
Philippine coastguard chief Rear Admiral William Melad said the 44-metre (144-foot) vessel from Japan would be sent out to sea on patrols and law enforcement operations.
The boat would also be used for humanitarian work and disaster relief operations. Japan will supply nine more of the vessels under a 7.3 billion peso ($158 million) soft loan agreement.