The defense ministers of Japan and Vietnam have agreed to counter any unilateral attempts to change the status quo “by coercion” in regional waters, apparently referring to China’s aggressive activities in the East and South China Seas.
Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Jang discussed regional security in regional waters at a November 23 meeting, reaffirming the countries’ cooperation in maintaining the existing international order.
The meeting took place in Tokyo, a day after Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chin and his entourage arrived on a four-day visit at the invitation of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
Both ministers reaffirmed the importance for countries to comply with international law while respecting freedom of navigation and overflight, according to a statement from the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
The countries have signed two agreements on cybersecurity and military medicine, in which Japan will increase its support for Vietnam in the fight against cyber attacks and medical problems.
Kishi told reporters that the cyberspace agreement aims to remove a “strong sense of urgency” for activities in the Indo-Pacific that defy the existing international order by naming China without specifying a country name.
According to him, negotiations with Phan Van Jang raised “defense cooperation between the two countries to a new level.”
“Japan and Vietnam have agreed to more actively promote peace and stability in the region and the international community by leveraging each other’s strengths and resources,” Kishi told media after the meeting, Kyodo News reported.
In recent years, Japan has intensified its cyber defense cooperation with the United States, Australia and other partners, and participated in NATO cyberspace exercises in April. Japan has also held cybersecurity talks with Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense said cyberattacks are part of growing security threats from China as it becomes more aggressive in the region, a common concern for the United States and other allies in the region.
The agreement on Tuesday was signed just two months after the two countries signed an agreement allowing Japan to supply defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Details of the transfer of specific equipment, possibly naval ships, are still being discussed.
Vietnam – 11th A country with which Japan has signed a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement, as Tokyo seeks to support its own struggling defense industry. Japan is also seeking to expand military cooperation beyond its longtime ally, the United States, and has signed similar agreements with the UK, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.