Dec 10 The Philippines sees Japan as a potential
counterbalance to the rise of China, its foreign minister told a
newspaper, as smaller Asian nations worry about Beijing's
military might and ambitions as tensions grow over conflicting
"We would welcome that very much," Albert del Rosario told
the Financial Times an interview published early on Monday. The
paper said he was responding to a question about whether Manila
would support a rearmed Japan.
"We are looking for balancing factors in the region and
Japan could be a significant balancing factor."
The Philippines and China have conflicting claims to
territory in the South China Sea. Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan and
Malaysia also have claims to parts of the sea.
Del Rosario's comments come ahead of a Dec. 16 election in
Japan that is expected to be won by the opposition Liberal
Democratic Party (LDP). LDP leader Shinzo Abe has promised to
loosen limits on the military in Japan's pacifist constitution
and stand up to China over disputed isles in the East China Sea.