Events Operationalizing the Emerging U.S.-Japan-Philippines Triangle

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Operationalizing the Emerging U.S.-Japan-Philippines Triangle

February 14, 2024 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

To download this recap as a PDF, please click here.

On February 14, 2024, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA (Sasakawa USA) hosted the in-person policy briefing, Operationalizing the Emerging U.S.-Japan-Philippines Triangle,” featuring Mr. Brian Harding, senior expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace. Mr. Harding summarized the key points from his research trip report as part of Sasakawa USA’s U.S.-Japan Research Exchange program, visiting Japan in December 2023 to meet with Japanese government officials, civil society, media reporters, and academic researchers, who are experts on Japan-Philippines relations. His presentation was followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Sasakawa USA’s Policy Briefing Series presented this discussion. Attendees included junior and senior think tank researchers in Washington, D.C., Japanese Self-Defense Force officers, and high-level Philippines embassy representatives. Dr. Satohiro Akimoto, chairman and president of Sasakawa USA, provided introductory remarks, facilitated this event, and moderated the Q&A discussion.

Key Topic Areas from Mr. Harding’s Report

At this event, Mr. Harding shared his key findings and recommendations on how the U.S., Japan, and the Philippines could forge practical trilateral cooperation and how the triad could contribute to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region. A full report on Mr. Harding’s research trip can be found on Sasakawa USA’s website here. Below are some of the key topic areas discussed at the policy briefing event:

  1. Top issue areas for U.S.-Japan-Philippines cooperation are a) building defense security capacity, with a focus on maritime security, b) countering disinformation and propaganda disseminated by the adversaries, and c) supporting peace and stability in Mindanao.
  2. Although the three countries are bolstering their trilateral cooperation on the presidential and prime ministerial, foreign ministerial, and NSC advisers’ level, U.S. and Japanese security officials and experts lack deep ties with Filipino counterparts.
  3. To institutionalize trilateral cooperation, there is an urgent need for more engagements at all levels – track 1, track 1.5, track 2 –, and ad hoc quadrilateral meetings with Australia should be pursued whenever there is an opportunity.

Q&A Session

A Q&A with the audience followed Mr. Harding’s presentation covering a wide range of topics. A brief summary is below:

  • The trilateral cooperation could focus more on economic security matters and explore other potential areas of cooperation such as joint technology projects or establishing a trilateral STEM program.
  • There have been efforts to strengthen the three countries’ military and coast guard cooperation, yet the three countries lack bottom up and grassroot efforts to further bolster the trilateral cooperation outside of military-to-military areas.
  • There are several factors that could positively or negatively impact the future of the trilateral cooperation including the current political tension in the Philippines, the outcome of the 2024 U.S. presidential election, underdeveloped U.S.-Philippines economic cooperation, and the commitment and deterrence of U.S. and Japan against China’s malign activities towards Taiwan.

Sasakawa USA is grateful to Mr. Harding for producing a comprehensive research report following his trip to Japan via Sasakawa USA’s U.S.-Japan Research Exchange program and further sharing his key findings from his research trip with our Washington, D.C. audience. Sasakawa USA also thanks the Q&A participants and attendees for joining us in this engaging discussion. 

The summarized views of the speakers expressed herein are entirely the work of Sasakawa USA and do not represent the official positions of any of the speakers.

For more information about Sasakawa USA’s Policy Briefing Series, click here.


February 14, 2024
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Category:

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