TOKYO (AP) – Japan can now supply Vietnam with defense equipment and technology under an agreement signed on Saturday, as the two countries step up military cooperation amid concerns over China’s growing military influence .
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates their defense partnership “to a new level” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen their defense ties through joint multinational exercises and other means. Details on the transfer of specific equipment, including warships, will be clarified in subsequent discussions, the ministry said.
Kishi’s meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Phan Van Giang, in Hanoi coincided with a two-day visit to the Vietnamese capital by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. He concluded his visit by saying that China is planning to donate 3 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to Vietnam.
The deal comes two weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Vietnam to strengthen ties with the Southeast Asian nation. During the tour, Harris urged countries to stand up against “intimidation” by China in the South China Sea.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that Kishi and Giang agree on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as cooperation in various fields of defense, including cybersecurity.
Tokyo regularly protests the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims and also calls Diaoyu. Japanese authorities say Chinese ships routinely violate Japanese territorial waters around the islands, sometimes threatening fishing vessels.
During the talks, Kishi expressed Japan’s strong opposition to “any unilateral attempt to change the status quo through coercion or any activity that exacerbates tensions,” referring to China’s increasingly assertive activity in East and South China Sea, but without identifying any country by name. .
Vietnam is the 11th country with which Japan has signed a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement. Tokyo is seeking to expand its military cooperation beyond its longtime ally, the United States, and has signed similar agreements with Britain, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
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