Japan and Vietnam signed a deal Saturday enabling exports of Japanese-made defense equipment, technology and ships to the Southeast Asian country to boost cooperation amid China's rising assertiveness in regional waters.

The accord was inked in Hanoi during Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi's first trip overseas after assuming the post last year. Japan will speed up talks with Vietnam to sell Self-Defense Forces' vessels, Kishi said in an online news conference, following a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang.

Vietnam, as one of the key members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is the 11th country to sign such an agreement with Japan, at a time when China is asserting its claims in parts of the East and South China seas.