Japan's defense minister has held his first meeting with his new Vietnamese counterpart and expressed "serious concerns" over a Chinese law that allows its coast guard to use weapons. The legislation took effect earlier this year.
Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo held a video conference with Vietnam's defense minister General Phan Van Giang on Thursday. The Vietnamese minister took office in April.
A statement by Japan's Defense Ministry said Kishi "stated his intent to reinforce within the international community a steadfast opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion." The comment is believed to signal Japan's intent to resist increased Chinese maritime activities.
The statement also said the ministers reconfirmed "the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight" in discussing regional security issues, including those pertaining to the East and South China seas.
It added that both sides also "reaffirmed the critical need for observing international law" and that the ministers agreed "to maintain close coordination between their respective defense authorities."
At a summit last October, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc effectively agreed to conclude a deal to promote technical cooperation and the transfer of defense equipment from Japan.