Philippines, Japan foreign and defence ministers to meet July 8 in Manila

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa speaks after the bilateral meeting with her Sri Lankan counterpart Ali Sabry in Colombo

MANILA (Reuters) -Japan and the Philippines' foreign and defence ministers will meet in Manila next month for talks that could include a breakthrough defence pact that would allow their military forces to visit each other's soil.

Japanese foreign minister Yoko Kamikawa and Defence Minister Minoru Kihara will meet their Philippine counterparts on July 8 for a 2+2 meeting, Manila's foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The meeting comes as the Philippines and Japan are negotiating a reciprocal access agreement (RAA) that would deepen defence cooperation between two key allies of the United States in Asia.

Japanese lawmaker and former defence minister Itsunori Onodera, who visited Manila this week along with two other lawmakers, said he hopes an RAA pact will "make rapid progress" during the high-level talks next month.

"I hope the RAA will be ratified," Onodera told a briefing.

The Philippines has been ramping up its ties with neighbours and other countries to counter what it describes as China's growing aggression in the South China Sea.

Japan and China, on the other hand, have faced off in the East China Sea in tiny, uninhabited islands that Beijing calls the Diaoyu and Tokyo calls the Senkaku.

"I believe the Philippines and Japan have something in common," Onodera said, referring to their clashes with China in disputed waters.

"We oppose any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo," Onodera said.

In February 2023, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida agreed in Tokyo that their militaries would cooperate on disaster relief, a deal that paved the way for RAA negotiations with Japan.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Mikhail Flores; Editing by John Mair)