Japan, Vietnam PM’ Meet In Hanoi; Vow To Collaborate On South China Sea

Japan and Vietnam on Monday agreed to join hands and cooperate on regional issues, including disputed South China Sea, local media reported.

Speaking to reporters along with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called Vietnam a “cornerstone” of efforts to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and vowed Japan’s continued contribution to “peace and prosperity in the region”, according to Kyodo News Agency.

Suga, who arrived on his first overseas trip since taking office last month, said he agreed with his Vietnamese counterpart on the export of military equipment and technology, including patrol planes and radars, to Vietnam.

According to Suga, these latest equipment, would help improve surveillance capabilities of Vietnam. Hanoi also has a dispute with China over the South China Sea.

Competing claims of territorial sovereignty over islands and smaller features in the South China Sea have been a longstanding source of tension and distrust in the region.

The sea — a crucial passage for a significant portion of the world’s commercial shipping — is bordered by Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

China claims nearly all of the 3.5-million-square-kilometer (1.35 million-square-mile) of the South China Sea, roughly 90%.

The two leaders also agreed to resume regular flights between Tokyo and Hanoi soon and allow skilled workers to travel without a 14-day quarantine, the agency reported.

Suga said that Phuc also agreed to cooperate on the North Korea issue and said Vietnam supported his country’s efforts to get back its citizens abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

For his part, Phuc welcomed Japan’s investment in his country. Suga will also visit Jakarta on Tuesday to meet Indonesian President Joko Widodo.