Japan, Vietnam Oppose Bids to Change Status Quo in Regional Waters ‘By Coercion’

By Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
Aldgra Fredly
November 24, 2021 Updated: November 24, 2021

The defense ministers of Japan and Vietnam agreed to oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo “by coercion” in regional waters, seemingly referring to China’s assertive activities in the East and South China Seas.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang discussed regional security in the regional waters in a Nov. 23 meeting, confirming the countries’ cooperation in maintaining the existing international order.

The meeting took place in Tokyo, a day after Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and his entourage arrived for a four-day visit at the invitation of Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

Both ministers reconfirmed the importance of countries complying with international law, while respecting freedom of navigation and overflight, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

The countries signed two agreements on cybersecurity and military medicine, in which Japan will strengthen its support for Vietnam in dealing with cyberattacks and medical-related issues.

Kishi told reporters that the cyberspace agreement aimed to address a “strong sense of urgency” over activities in the Indo-Pacific region that challenge the existing international order, indicating China without identifying any country by name.

He said talks with Phan Van Giang, had taken “defense cooperation between the two countries to a new level”.

“Japan and Vietnam agreed to more actively contribute to peace and stability in the region and the international community by utilizing each other’s strengths and resources,” Kishi told media after the meeting, reported Kyodo News.

Japan has in recent years stepped up cyberdefense cooperation with the United States, Australia, and other partners, and participated in a NATO cyberspace exercise in April. Japan has also held cybersecurity talks with Vietnam, Singapore, and Indonesia.

Japanese Defense Ministry said cyberattacks are part of rising security threats from China as it becomes more assertive in the region—a shared concern by the United States and other allies in the region.

Tuesday’s agreement comes only two months after the two countries struck a deal allowing Japan to provide defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Details of the transfer of specific equipment, possibly naval vessels, are still being discussed.

Vietnam is the 11th nation with which Japan has signed a defense equipment and technology transfer deal as Tokyo seeks to support its own struggling defense industry. Japan is also looking to expand military cooperation beyond its longtime ally the U.S., and has signed similar agreements with Britain, Australia, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.