Japan PM begins first foreign tour to Vietnam, Indonesia

Tokyo, Oct 18 (efe-epa).- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Sunday began a four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia to boost trade and security ties with the neighbors on his first foreign tour since taking office last month.

Suga assumed power on Sep 16, replacing Shinzo Abe, who resigned for health reasons.

The new prime minister has chosen the two Southeast Asian countries for his first foreign tour to strengthen ties with the neighbors in the face of China’s growing influence in the region amid instability fears in the Asia-Pacific.

“I would like to show a resolve to contribute to peace and prosperity in the region toward realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Suga told reporters before boarding his plane from Tokyo’s Haneda Airport that will take him to Vietnam.

In Vietnam, he is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Monday in Hanoi.

The two leaders will take negotiations forward to finalize an agreement that will enable Japan to sell defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. These include patrol aircraft and radar systems.

The two will also discuss the November summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Suga will land in Indonesia on Tuesday to meet with President Joko Widodo.

The two countries are exploring the possibilities of restoring air links after the restrictions imposed to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, according to official sources. EFE

The trip comes days after the Oct.6 meeting between top diplomats of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India.

The head of foreign affairs of the four countries, together known as “Quad”, at their meeting in Tokyo, decided to boost cooperation to strengthen their strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Toshimitsu Motegi of Japan, Marise Payne of Australia, and Subrahmanyam Jaishankar of India underlined the shared values of democracy, respect for international law and free trade, and expressed willingness to advance multilateral cooperation.

However, they held different positions while referring to China.

Pompeo was the only one who referred to China bluntly at the start of the meeting, stressing that the Quad’s collaboration was “more critical now than ever that we collaborate to protect our people and partners from the CCP’s (Communist Party of China’s) exploitation, corruption and coercion.” EFE-EPA


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