TOKYO (NWN) – Japan and Vietnam signed a deal on Tuesday for cooperation in space defense and cyber security, as the two Asian countries sharply scaled up their military ties amid concerns over China’s growing assertiveness.
Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the space and cyberspace agreement is intended to address a “strong sense of urgency” over activities in the Indo-Pacific region that challenge the current international order, allowing China to stop any country. Indicates without identifying by name.
Kishi said talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang had “taken defense cooperation between the two countries to a new level.”
Tokyo regularly opposes the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu. Japanese officials say Chinese ships regularly breach Japanese territorial waters around the islands, sometimes threatening fishing boats.
Kishi also said he expressed concern over the recent escalation of joint military activities by China and Russia near Japanese waters and airspace.
Kishi said two Chinese H-6 fighters and two Russian Tu-95s took off from the Sea of Japan to the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, causing a scuffle with Japanese Self-Defense Force jets.
He said Chinese and Russian warplanes had previously flown together around Japan twice in 2019.
During the talks, Kishi expressed Japan’s strong opposition to “any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by coercion or any activity that increases tensions”, referring to China’s increasingly assertive activity in the East and South China Seas.
Japan is committed to defending a “free and democratic” Indo-Pacific region and to cooperating with the United States and other “like-minded countries that share universal values,” Kishi said.
Tuesday’s deal comes two months after the two countries agreed to allow Vietnam to provide defense equipment and technology. The details of the transfer of specific equipment, possibly naval ships, are still being discussed.
Vietnam is the 11th country with which Japan has signed a defense equipment and technology transfer deal as Tokyo seeks to support its own struggling defense industry. Japan also wants to expand military cooperation beyond its longtime ally, the US, and has signed similar agreements with Britain, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.