Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Singaporean counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong, have reaffirmed their commitment to uphold the rules-based international order amid Russia's aggression against Ukraine and China's growing military and economic clout.

During talks Friday at Singapore's Changi Airport following a six-day visit to Africa, Kishida told Lee that negotiations on a deal that would allow the transfer of defense equipment and technology between the two countries are making progress, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

"We want to strengthen security and defense cooperation," Kishida was quoted as saying, while also calling for deepening cooperation in areas such as start-ups and building resilient supply chains.

Kishida and Lee also discussed the war in Ukraine and the situation in the East and South China seas, where Beijing has been stepping up territorial claims, including over the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands.

"The two leaders ... agreed to continue to cooperate toward maintaining and strengthening the free and open international order based on the rule of law," the ministry said.

Kishida stopped by Singapore after departing Mozambique, the final leg of his four-nation African tour. He met with Lee over lunch for around 75 minutes while his government airplane underwent refueling.

Kishida's tour to Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique came amid a push to strengthen ties with the "Global South," a term that collectively refers to developing nations in areas including Asia, Africa and Latin America, ahead of the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima later this month.