Japan can now give defense equipment and technology to Vietnam under an agreement signed Saturday, as the two countries step up their military cooperation amid worries about China's growing military influence.
Japan's Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates their defense partnership “to a new level” and that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means. Details about the transfer of specific equipment, including naval vessels, will be worked out in subsequent talks, 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 wrapped up his visit by saying China plans to donate 3 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine to Vietnam.
The agreement comes two weeks after the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris travelled to Vietnam to strengthen ties with the Southeast Asian nation. During the tour, Harris urged countries to stand up against “bullying” by China in the South China Sea.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that Kishi and Giang agreed on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as cooperation in various defense areas including cybersecurity.
Tokyo regularly protests the Chinese coast guard's presence near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu. Japanese officials say Chinese vessels routinely violate Japanese territorial waters around the islands, sometimes threatening fishing boats.
During the talks, Kishi expressed Japan's strong opposition to "any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion or any activities that escalate tensions,” referring to China’s increasingly assertive activity in the East and South China Sea, but without identifying any country by name
Japan's Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo has held talks with Vietnamese Defense Minister Phan Van Giang in Hanoi.
The two ministers agreed to uphold the existing international order based on the rule of law. They are believed to have China's maritime activities in mind.
Kishi expressed serious concerns over China's Coast Guard Law, which allows the use of weapons.
He stated strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion.
The two countries signed an agreement to transfer defense equipment and technology.
The ministers confirmed that their countries will promote defense cooperation and consult with each other on the transfer of specific equipment, including vessels.
The meeting lasted more than 90 minutes.
Vietnam was also the destination of two senior US officials. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited in July and Vice President Kamala Harris was there in August.
Meanwhile, China and Vietnam have confirmed that they should expand their relationship.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met Communist Party leader General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong of Vietnam on Saturday during his visit to the Southeast Asian country.
China's foreign ministry says that during the meeting, Wang described China-Vietnam relations as having particular strategic importance.
He added that in the face of a complex international situation, the two countries should deepen political trust and strengthen unity and cooperation.
Trong noted that no one can undermine the unity and cooperation between the two countries.
AP and NHK