A Japanese submarine will visit the Philippines along with two warships that will then sail on to Vietnam, in a show of support to the Philippines and other neighboring countries who opposed to China’s ambitions in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a person familiar with the matter said.

Ssangyong type (SS "SOURYU" Class) Submarine of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Image credit: JMSDF
Ssangyong type (SS “SOURYU” Class) Submarine of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. Image credit: JMSDF

The Japanese submarine, along with the destroyers will arrive in the Philippines in April. The two escort warships will later sail to Vietnam’s strategic Cam Ranh Bay base, the source said.

“It sends a message. It is important for Japan to show its presence,” said the source who asked not to be identified.

A Japanese Ministry of Defence spokesman refused to comment on the issue but said the navy normally conducted training voyages in March and April.

“But we are still in the planning stage so are unable to provide details,” he said.

The planned submarine visit was first reported by Japanese media, including the Sankei newspaper, on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Monday that China was on “high alert” for Japan’s military moves in disputed West Philippine Sea.

“The cooperation of relevant countries should benefit regional stability and should not be directed at third parties or harm another country’s sovereignty or security interests,” he said during a news briefing.

Hong Lei said that Japan occupied the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea during World War II, that is why China was on “high alert” for Japan’s military moves there.

Although a visit to the Subic Bay naval base was expected, the Philippine Military had not received any official notification of a visit by a Japanese submarine, according to a Philippine Military spokesman.

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