Japan to export defense tech to Vietnam under new agreement

Clay Curtis
October 20, 2020

Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

The two leaders also discussed ways to promote Japan's Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) foreign policy initiative.

China has always firmly opposed these kinds of acts by Japanese politicians, stressing that it has broken the spirit of the four political documents between the two countries and urging Japan to earnestly implement the four-point principled agreement reached in late 2014 and reflect deeply on the history of its aggression.

Vietnam is leading ASEAN's Indo-Pacific vision, which features many issues covered by FOIP, and Suga told Phuc that Japan will support this program. "I would like to reemphasize the importance for all parties concerning the South China Sea issues to work towards the peaceful resolution of disputes based on global law instead of resorting to force or coercion", he said, adding that Japan will work with ASEAN to uphold the rule of law in the seas and oceans.

"Japan will spare no effort to offer cooperation for this goal", Suga said.

"The ASEAN nations are extremely important partners (for Japan) to realize a 'Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP),'" Suga told reporters on October 18 before departing from Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

Suga's visit also coincides with Japan's efforts to diversify its supply chains and reduce reliance on China by bringing production home or moving it to Southeast Asia.

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Suga said the pandemic has proved how supply chains could be broken and why it was necessary to build stable chains and improve their stability to keep them from being broken.

A Foreign Ministry official said it will be "impossible to implement FOIP without the cooperation of ASEAN". The agreement in principle could see Japan exporting defence equipment and technologies including patrol planes and radar to Vietnam, a rival claimant and vocal critic of Beijing's expansive claims in the resource-rich South China Sea, South China Morning Post (SCMP) report. These range from defense - both nations face maritime conflicts with China in the East and South China Seas, respectively - to economics.

His statement came after the Japan External Trade Organization (Jetro) had announced that 15 Japanese firms had registered to shift their production from China to Vietnam. He also said he expects more developments in the future.

Suga, who took office last month after Shinzo Abe quit because of poor health, is making his overseas diplomatic debut this week, visiting Vietnam, the current chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and Indonesia, the group's largest nation.

Japan is one of Vietnam's top trading partners, with two-way trade of $28.6 billion already this year. After all, Vietnam was also the destination of Abe's first foreign trip at the start of his second administration.

Abe's pilgrimage to the shrine in 2013 sparked outrage in China and ROK and an expression of "disappointment" from the United States.

The region is bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

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