Japan Provides Aid to Philippines for Five New Coast Guard Patrol Boats

Philippine Coast Guard
Teresa Magbanua was one of two patrol boats Japan built in 2021 and 2022 for the PCG (PCG)

Published Nov 9, 2023 7:08 PM by The Maritime Executive


The Philippines announced today with the support of the Japanese government they will be undertaking several projects including adding more patrol boats to the Coast Guard to expand their security capabilities. News of the loans and grants from Japan came after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida wrapped up a two-day visit to the Philippines that included a tour of one of the Philippine Coast Guard’s modern patrol boats.

Japan and the Philippines are setting aside historical animosities including persistent resentment after the occupation of the Philippines by Japan during World War II to work together in response to China’s increasing activities in the region. The two countries are forming closer ties demonstrated by the pomp and circumstance of the state visit.

The Philippines’ National Economic and Development Authority Board (NEDA) met on November 8 to officially approve the plans for the enhancement of the Coast Guard including the acceptance of the loans and grants from Japan. According to the board’s spokesperson, they had discussed the efforts to expand the Coast Guard during the visit by Japan’s Prime Minister. They also discussed expanding the trilateral maritime exercises involving the Japanese and United States Coast Guard to “strengthen cooperation and maintain peace in the ocean regions.”


Japan's Prime Minister toured a Japanese-built patrol boat delivered to the PCG in 2021 (PCG photo)


Japan will provide a $525 million loan which will be used in the effort to build five additional modern patrol boats for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). They expect the vessels will be delivered between 2027 and 2028 while emphasizing they would be for the Coast Guard and not the military. However, they said the vessels would be able to operate in rough waters and the open ocean, making them well-suited for a broad range of missions including resupply and security.

According to the Commander of the Coast Guard, the additional ships will help expand PCG operations, including patrolling the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), conducting a search and rescue mission, and cooperating with the government’s humanitarian assistance and disaster response efforts.

"This project involves the design, construction, and delivery of five units of multi-role response vessels or MRRVs, each with a length of 97 meters. This project also includes a five-year integrated logistics support," a spokesperson for NEDA said after the board meeting. ''In particular, the project will enable the Coast Guard to secure important sea lines of communication in the West Philippine Sea, Sulu-Celebes Seas, and the Philippine Sea. It will also help the PCG combat illegal activities and enforce maritime laws in the Philippine waters,'' he added.

During the visit to Manila on November 4 and 5, Prime Minister Kishida also announced Japan will provide the Philippines with a coastal radar surveillance system. The countries agreed on a $4 million grant to enhance the coastal radar capabilities. 

Japan in 2022 launched new initiatives to increase security in the Indo-Pacific region. The latest moves are seen as a direct response to China’s recent confrontations with Filipino forces and incursions into territorial waters including in Japan. Media in Manila is reporting that the Prime Minister and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos also agreed to start negotiations for a defense pact that would allow the countries to deploy troops on each other's territory. Japan has previously helped finance the Philippine Coast Guard modernization, including funding the construction of two new patrol boats.