Japan and Vietnam Strengthen Relations: China and South China Sea (East Sea)

Japan and Vietnam Strengthen Relations: China and South China Sea (East Sea)

Amina Qamar, Takeshi Hasegawa and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

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The governments of Japan and Vietnam have agreed to strengthen economic and Security relations. On top of this, Japan will provide powerful loans in order to support infrastructural development projects. Therefore, the strengthening of ties will enhance both nations and given the American angle, in relation to Japan, then clearly the picture is much bigger.

Not surprisingly, the China factor is being raised in the media based on the perceived encroachment of Beijing in the South China Sea (Vietnam says East Sea). Of course, this reality can’t be ignored but clearly Japan is also focused on the Mekong Delta in general. In this sense, improved ties with Vietnam overlap naturally with development projects in the Mekong Delta. In other words, it is like killing two birds with one stone for political elites based in Tokyo.

Reuters reports Vietnam agreed with Japan on Tuesday to step up security cooperation, becoming the latest Southeast Asian country to seek closer ties with Tokyo as China maintains an assertive posture in disputed waters in the South China Sea.”

Agreements reached between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Nguyen Phu Trong the Communist Party chief of Vietnam bodes well for the future. After all, from a geopolitical angle alone it is clear that both nations will gain enormously. Therefore, the incentives of greater economic and security ties between Japan and Vietnam naturally flow especially with the China card being played.

In another article related to the South China Sea crisis by Modern Tokyo Times it was reported The Paracels is in “no mans land” and clearly nations should be open to dialogue with regards to sharing – or making mutual compromises – or going to arbitration based on a court decision. Yet for China to claim the Spratlys and territorial waters near to Indonesia and the Philippines is brazen at best. Similarly, territorial waters claimed by China near Vietnam appear menacing.”

The BBC reports: “The Nine-Dash line is a boundary which China uses to demarcate its claims in the South China Sea…The Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan have competing claims in the area.”

In the area of security then developments between Japan and Vietnam is following on from other regional security agreements in 2015. This applies to Japan reaching agreements with Malaysia and the Philippines in the area of regional security. Therefore, with Vietnam being a powerful regional player in Southeast Asia, it became imperative that Japan gained the confidence of Vietnam and this equally applies to the ambitions of Japan throughout the Mekong Delta.

Trong stressed the “…need to raise the effectiveness of cooperation in education and training, science and technology, culture, tourism, labour and people-to-people exchange environmental protection disaster preparedness, climate change response, as well as in defense and security.”

It is hoped that Japan and Vietnam will continue to boost economic, geopolitical and security ties. However, the China card must not be overplayed even if problematic. After all, in time political elites from China, Japan and Vietnam must solve their respective differences amicably. Yet if this fails, then at least Japan and Vietnam will have certain agreements to fall back on.

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