HANOI – Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh agreed Thursday to deepen cooperation on maritime security as China’s militarization of the South China Sea continues, Japanese officials said.
Kishida and Minh, who doubles as foreign minister, also confirmed the need for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be united on the South China Sea issue, they said.
Kishida relayed to his counterpart Tokyo’s intention to work closely with the new Hanoi government, which has been in place since early April.
As a specific cooperation measure, Kishida said Japan will swiftly provide Vietnam with more secondhand vessels to be used as patrol ships to increase its maritime patrol capabilities, in addition to six boats already provided.
Kishida’s visit to Vietnam comes as Tokyo has invited Vietnam’s leader and other Asian and African countries to participate in an outreach section of the Group of Seven summit that Japan will host later this month.
On Friday, Kishida signed an exchange of notes with Vietnam to provide about ¥21 billion ($196 million) in low-interest loans to improve the sewage system in Ho Chi Minh City.
Separately, Japan decided to grant around ¥890 million to Vietnam for a project to develop human resources in the public sector, according to Japanese officials.
Ahead of his meeting with Minh, Kishida met with new Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and agreed to deepen relations between the two countries.
He was expected to call on President Tran Dai Quang later Friday before returning home from his eight-day trip to China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.