The Philippine defense chief says his government has agreed in principle to lease five Japanese surveillance planes to be used in patrolling disputed areas of the South China Sea and in search-and-rescue missions during disasters.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Tuesday he plans to discuss with his Japanese counterpart the terms of the lease of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force TC 90 aircraft when they meet in Laos later this month.

The Asian allies, which have separate territorial conflicts with China, have been deepening their security ties. They signed an agreement in February to allow Japan to supply defense equipment and technology to the Philippines, Tokyo's first such pact with any Southeast Asian country.

Gazmin says the new defense accord allows Japan to lease the planes to the Philippines.