World News

Japan to sign agreement allowing arms exports to Vietnam: Nikkei

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan plans to sign an agreement with Vietnam to allow it to export defence equipment and technology to the country, part of a move to strengthen defence capabilities of Indo-Pacific nations to counter Chinese maritime advances, the Nikkei newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Tuesday told his ruling Liberal Democratic Party that he will visit Vietnam and Indonesia next week, the newspaper said, adding he was expected to sign the Vietnam deal during the trip.

Japan ended a decades-old ban on overseas arms sales in 2014 to help beef up the nation’s military and lower the unit cost of home-built military equipment but has so far struggled to strike export deals for finished products.

Japan’s only export deal for a finished product has been one signed with the Philippines in August for the export of a warning and control radar system developed by Mitsubishi Electric, the Nikkei said.

Tokyo is also negotiating with Indonesia and Thailand to sign an agreement regarding defence equipment transfers as it seeks to draw on Southeast Asian demand, it added.

Suga’s visit to the two countries would be his first overseas trip since taking office last month following Shinzo Abe’s resignation due to ill health.

Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Michael Perry