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    Posted December 7, 2013 by

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    Japan, Phl to expand defense cooperation

    JAPANESE Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera on Saturday said that they are looking at the possibility of expanding defense cooperation with the Philippines to speed up relief operations in its disaster-hit areas.
    Onodera made the announcement as the Philippine government is racing against time to rehabilitate the areas destroyed by super typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) in the Visayas Region.
    "We share the view that if we could have advanced disaster relief framework, or agreement, which enables our forces to be deployed to the Philippines even faster, that would be more meaningful for the future field operations," Onodera said.
    Onodera, who is on a two-day visit to the Philippines, is also expected to make w an ocular inspection in areas devastated by typhoon "Yolanda" in Eastern Visayas.
    The Japanese defense chief said he will decide if the Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) will withdraw from the country by yearend.
    Around 1,000 Japanese troops and volunteers are deployed in Eastern Visayas, joining relief operations and providing medical services.
    "The decision will be made after I see the affected area tomorrow, but according to the force on the site and according to countries that deployed forces, the necessity or need in the site are changing from emergency relief to reconstruction and recovery phase," he said.

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