HANOI - Japan will provide Vietnam with six vessels that can be used as patrol ships in a move to assist Hanoi's efforts to strengthen its law enforcement capability in the South China Sea, the two governments agreed Friday.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida signed the grant-in-aid deal with Bui Quang Vinh, Vietnam's minister of planning and investment, in the Vietnamese capital at a time when Vietnam is locked in a maritime territorial dispute with China.
The ships will be supplied to Vietnam by the end of the year, in a deal worth 500 million yen, according to Japanese officials.
In a meeting with Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, Kishida expressed Japan's intention to assist Vietnam's drive to boost its coast guard capability, the officials said.
Kishida and Minh agreed to strengthen cooperation in ensuring maritime security as both countries confront China's muscle-flexing to press territorial claims in the East and South China seas.
In the East China Sea, Beijing has increased its territorial assertion to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands.
Minh welcomed Japan's security policy review, including a July 1 decision by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, according to the officials.
According to a Japanese delegation source, two of the six vessels are fishery patrol boats of the Fisheries Agency, while four are commercial fishing boats.
All are previously owned and 600 to 800 ton-class ships. Lifeboats and other equipment will also be offered.