Joint sea military exercises with Japan mulled

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Reiterating his opposition to foreign troops in the Philippines, firebrand leader President Rodrigo Duterte said “joint (military) exercise with Japan in general terms is not a problem.”

Duterte, who went to Japan for a three-day visit, said “stationing of Japanese troops was not discussed.”

However, Duterte took the time to lashed out at the United States government anew, noting that Washington treated the Philippines like “dogs on a leash.” US officials had earlier urged Duterte to tone down his anti-US rhetoric and criticized him for the apparent violation of human rights in connection with his all-out war against illegal drugs.

Duterte said the Philippines could join naval exercises with Japan in the contested South China Sea but reiterated his call to end war games with the US.

“With the Americans, it’s problematic,” Duterte said.

He noted that he wanted foreign troops out of his country “maybe in the next two years.” “I don’t want to embarrass my defense secretary but the exercises with the Americans will be the last.”

Japan is a close ally of the United States.