• The Financial District


Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed defense and economic cooperation between their countries, as China's growing influence continues to make its neighbors jittery, Kyodo News reported.

Meeting the press after summit talks with Phuc in Hanoi, Suga, who is on his first overseas trip since becoming prime minister, called Vietnam a linchpin in efforts to realize a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and vowed Japan's "continued contribution to peace and prosperity in the region."

Suga also criticized actions in the South China Sea that "go against the rule of law," a veiled reference to Beijing's increasing assertiveness in the disputed waters, in a speech on foreign affairs he later delivered at the Vietnam Japan University.

"It is important that all nations involved work toward a peaceful resolution of conflicts in the South China Sea without resorting to force or coercion," he said.

Following the one-hour meeting with Phuc, Suga said the countries had agreed in principle on a pact that would enable Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam.

Such equipment, likely including patrol planes and radar, would help improve the surveillance capabilities of Vietnam, which is one of the claimants in territorial disputes in the South China Sea including over the Spratly Islands, where China is building up a military presence.

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