TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japan and Vietnam signed a defense agreement on Saturday (Sept. 11) that will allow for increased cooperation and exports of Japanese military equipment to the Southeast Asian nation.
In addition, the two sides agreed to increased port calls by the Japan Self-Defense Forces in Vietnam, multinational joint exercises, stepped up cooperation in cybersecurity, and the general promotion of a rules-based international order and respect for international law.
The deal, which arose from shared concerns about an increasingly aggressive China, represents “a new level” of defense coordination for the two partners, according to Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, per Al Jazeera.
Inking the deal with his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang, Kishi said Japan will now accelerate negotiations to sell naval vessels to Vietnam, wrote the Japan Times. He added that the agreement will “strengthen Japan’s defense industrial base.”
Going back to Cold War times, Vietnam has been a close military partner of Russia, which supplies much of its military equipment. However, the country is now looking to diversify its military supply chain, its defense ministry said.
For Japan, the Vietnam deal is its 11th such agreement. Currently, Japan is looking to grow its list of military partners beyond its traditional ally, the United States. Other partners with whom Japan has signed agreements include the U.K., Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, according to Al Jazeera.
Both Vietnam and Japan have maritime territorial disputes with China in the South and East China seas, respectively.
During the signing, Kishi voiced his opposition to unilateral attempts to change the status quo in those waters. He also criticized a new coast guard law in China that makes it easier for that country to fire on foreign vessels it perceives as trespassing.
The minister also made clear that the fate of Taiwan is a serious concern for both Japanese national security and that of the rest of the world, per the Japan Times.
The Japan-Vietnam agreement coincides with a visit to Vietnam by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅), who announced China's donation of 3 million more doses of its COVID vaccines to the country.
On the issue of maritime disputes, Wang said that China and Vietnam should cherish their “hard-won peace” and “resist the intervention of extraterritorial forces,” according to the Chinese foreign ministry.