Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Photo credit: Reuters
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida plans to visit Vietnam from late June to early July to enhance cooperation in ensuring maritime security in the East and South China seas, Kyodo News reported Thursday.
In a planned meeting in Hanoi, Kishida and Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh would likely agree to speed up consultations on Japan's provision of patrol ships for Vietnam to better cope with China's rising maritime assertiveness in the South China Sea, the news agency said, quoting Japanese government sources.
China has increased tensions in the sea by towing the Haiyang Shiyou 981 rig into Vietnam’s territorial waters off the Paracel Islands on May 1.
The US$1-billion mobile oil rig now sits about 80 nautical miles inside Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone--an area established by the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as extending 200 nautical miles from the Vietnamese shoreline.
China has also dispatched as many as 136 vessels, including military and armed ships, to the area where these vessels have been ramming and shooting water cannons at the Vietnamese ships tasked with stopping the rig from drilling.
Early this month, Fumio Kishida said that Japan was deeply concerned about escalating tensions in the region in the wake of China's launch of unilateral drilling activity in the South China Sea.
“We regard the latest case as being part of a series of unilateral and provocative maritime advancement activities by China,” he said. “We think China should clearly explain the basis and details of its activities to Vietnam and the international community.”
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