In the face of China’s increasing assertiveness in the South China Seas, Japan and Vietnam have signed a new defence agreement that would see Japanese-made defence equipment and technology sent to Hanoi.
The agreement was signed on Saturday in Hanoi, during Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi’s first abroad trip since taking office last year.
Following a meeting with his Vietnamese colleague Phan Van Giang, Kishi stated in an online press conference that Japan will speed up talks with Vietnam to sell Self-Defense Forces warships.
At a time when China grumbles, Vietnam, one of the important members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is said to be the 11th country to sign such an agreement with Japan.
The deal was reached just two weeks after US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Vietnam to deepen ties with the Southeast Asian country. Throughout the visit, Harris pushed countries to oppose China’s “bullying” in the South China Sea.
Kishi and Giang agreed on the need of maintaining freedom of navigation and overflight in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as cooperation in different defence fields, including cybersecurity, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.
The presence of the Chinese coast guard near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu, is often protested by Tokyo. Chinese vessels, according to Japanese officials, regularly violate Japanese territorial waters.