Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc met in Hanoi on Saturday and agreed to strengthen their countries’ defense cooperation.
The two countries will promote exchange programs for their defense industries while Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force vessels will make port calls in Vietnam, Japanese officials said.
“Drawing on the results of this visit, Japan would like to strengthen ties with Vietnam and contribute to regional stability and peace,” Iwaya told reporters after the meeting held on the last day of his three-day visit to Vietnam.
On Thursday, Iwaya and his Vietnamese counterpart Ngo Xuan Lich held talks where they agreed to seek a peaceful resolution for territorial issues in the South China Sea.
In the disputed waters, China is pushing its claims to almost the entire body of water with rich fishing grounds and possibly large oil and natural gas deposits, while Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan claim parts of the waters.
Japan is promoting bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation with Southeast Asian countries under its defense guidelines to counter China’s growing assertiveness in the region.