Japan, Vietnam prime ministers confirm cooperation on Indo-Pacific

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida listens to a speech during the ASEAN-East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh on Sunday.

PHNOM PENH — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Vietnamese counterpart Pham Minh Chinh confirmed during talks on Sunday that their countries will cooperate in realizing a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The meeting was held at a hotel in Phnom Penh where summit talks related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations were underway.

Stressing that “Vietnam is an important partner in realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Kishida expressed his intention to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation through official development assistance and the development of human resources. In response, Chinh said, “We’d like to accelerate cooperation in various fields.”

Regarding the situation in the East and South China Seas, Kishida stressed — with China’s increasing maritime expansion in mind — the importance of maintaining the international order based on the rule of law. Chinh concurred, saying, “I support Japan’s position.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was also on the agenda. Kishida condemned Russia, saying, “Russia’s threats implying the use of nuclear weapons are unacceptable. They [nuclear weapons] must never be used.”

Chinh said, “We’ll cooperate to realize a world without nuclear weapons.”

The Kishida-Chinh talks were originally scheduled for Saturday. However, Kishida’s departure from Japan was postponed from Friday afternoon to early Saturday morning, causing the meeting to be canceled at one point.