Japan, Vietnam boost defence ties as South China Sea tensions mount
HANOI, Oct 19: Japan and Vietnam agreed to step up security and defence cooperation on Monday, reaching an agreement in principle for Tokyo to export defence equipment and technology to the Southeast Asian nation.
The deal comes as concerns mount over China's increasing assertiveness in the contested South China Sea, with Beijing expanding its military presence in the region.
The pact would allow Japan to export equipment, likely including patrol planes and radar, to Vietnam, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo.
"It is a big step in the field of security and defence cooperation between the two countries that we reached an agreement in principle on the transfers of defence equipment and technology," said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in Hanoi during his first visit overseas since taking office last month.
"And I believe that it will advance further."
The resource-rich South China Sea is claimed in its entirety by Beijing but is also contested by Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.
China has reinforced its claim to the waterway by building up small shoals and reefs into military bases with airstrips and port facilities. -AFP