TOKYO, Nov 24, 2021, Kyodo News. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began talks with his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh in Tokyo on Wednesday evening, with the two expected to discuss ways to boost security cooperation as well as aid the post-coronavirus economic recovery, Kyodo News Agency reported.
Kishida, who is hosting his first foreign leader since taking office on Oct. 4, is expected to call on Chinh to work together toward realizing a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region, where China has been increasing its clout, according to Japanese officials.
Meeting the previous day, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Gen. Phan Van Giang agreed to “strongly oppose” unilateral attempts to change the status quo in regional waters without explicitly naming China.
The talks between Kishida and Chinh come after the signing of a bilateral agreement in September enabling exports of Japanese-made defense equipment and technology to Vietnam.
Both countries are involved in territorial disputes with China. China claims the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, while Vietnam has disputes in the South China Sea, where Beijing has expansive claims.
Kishida and Chinh are also likely to discuss ways to strengthen supply chains across their countries, as many Japanese firms have factories in Vietnam or use Vietnamese components in their products.
Meanwhile, Chinh, who headed a parliamentary group promoting friendly relations between Hanoi and Tokyo before taking office in April, is expected to express hope that Japan will accept more technical interns from Vietnam after easing coronavirus border controls earlier this month.
Following their meeting, the two are set to meet the press before having dinner together at the prime minister’s official residence.
Chinh arrived in Tokyo on Monday and is set to depart Thursday.