Japan and Vietnam Sign Defense Deal to Counter Common Foe, China

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This picture taken and released by the Vietnam News Agency on September 12, 2021 shows Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (R) shaking hands with Japan's Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi before a meeting in Hanoi. (Image: STR/Vietnam News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)

At a meeting on Saturday Sept. 11 between Vietnam and Japan, Japan agreed that it will now provide defense equipment and technology to Vietnam to counter what the two nations see as a mutual aggressive foe, China.

Japan’s defense minister, Nobuo Kishi said the deal elevates their defense partnership “to a new level” adding that Japan and Vietnam plan to deepen defense ties through multinational joint exercises and other means,   

The details concerning the transfer of equipment, which includes naval vessels, are to be determined in subsequent talks, the ministry said. 

The meeting between Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart, Phan Van Giang, in Hanoi occurred alongside a two-day visit to the Vietnamese capital by Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi. 

Wang ended his visit stating that China plans to donate upwards of 3-million doses of its domestically produced coronavirus vaccine to Vietnam. 

The agreement between the two nations also comes just two weeks after the U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Vietnam in an attempt to strengthen ties between the two nations. 

During the visit, Harris urged countries not to tolerate “bullying” by China in the South China sea. 

In a statement by Japan’s Defense Ministry the Ministry stated that Kishi and Giang agreed on the importance of maintaining freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region as well as cooperation in various areas of defense including cybersecurity. 

Without identifying any country by name, Kishi asserted Japan’s strong opposition to “any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion or any activities that escalate tensions,”  in the South China Sea, referring to China’s increasingly aggressive posturing in the area. 

The deal with Vietnam is the 11th partner to date that Japan has signed a defense equipment and technology deal with. Japan is looking to expand its military cooperation with nations beyond the United States and has signed similar deals with Britain and Australia as well as the Philippines and Indonesia.