Japan, Vietnam look to space and cyber defense against China

TOKYO (AP) – Japan and Vietnam signed a space defense and cybersecurity cooperation agreement on Tuesday, as the two Asian countries rapidly strengthen military ties amid assertiveness concerns from China.

Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters that the space and cyberspace deal was aimed at responding to a “strong sense of urgency” over activities in the Indo-Pacific region that call into question the existing international order, indicating China without identifying any country by name.

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

Tokyo regularly protests the presence of the Chinese Coast Guard near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands, which China claims and also calls Diaoyu. Japanese authorities say Chinese ships routinely violate Japanese territorial waters around the islands, sometimes threatening fishing vessels.

Kishi also said he raised concerns about the recent escalation of joint military activities by China and Russia near Japanese waters and airspace.

Kishi said a fleet of two Chinese H-6 fighters and two Russian Tu-95s flew from the Sea of ​​Japan to the East China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, prompting a rush of jets from the US Forces. Japanese self-defense.

Chinese and Russian fighter jets have flown together around Japan twice in 2019, he added.

During the talks, Kishi expressed Japan’s strong opposition to “any unilateral attempt to change the status quo through coercion or any activity that exacerbates tensions,” referring to China’s increasingly assertive activity in East and South China Sea.

Japan is committed to protecting a “free and democratic” Indo-Pacific region and to cooperating with the United States and other “like-minded countries that share universal values,” Kishi said.

Tuesday’s deal comes just two months after the two countries struck a deal allowing Japan to supply Vietnam with defense equipment and technology. Details of the transfer of specific equipment, possibly from warships, are still being discussed.

Vietnam is the 11th country with which Japan has signed a defense equipment and technology transfer agreement as Tokyo seeks to support its own ailing defense industry. Japan is also seeking to expand its military cooperation beyond its longtime ally, the United States, and has signed similar agreements with Britain, Australia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

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