Japan, Malaysia Sign Maritime Security Assistance Agreement

Sat Dec 16 2023
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TOKYO: On Saturday, Japan and Malaysia solidified a security assistance agreement, offering a grant of 400 million yen ($2.8 million) aimed at enhancing Malaysia’s maritime security in response to a more assertive China, reflecting broader efforts among Asian nations.

During a Tokyo summit commemorating 50 years of ties between Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Japan committed to supplying rescue boats and essential provisions as part of an official security assistance agreement signed by both countries’ foreign ministers.

Japan’s foreign ministry stated that Prime Minister Kishida expressed enthusiasm for the elevation of the Japan-Malaysia relationship to a “comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Notably, ASEAN nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei have territorial claims in the South China Sea, contested by China, which asserts control over almost the entire waterway facilitating over $3 trillion in annual ship-based trade. The Permanent Court of Arbitration discredited China’s claims in 2016, stating they lacked legal basis.

Throughout the three-day summit, Japan aims to bolster ASEAN members’ international standing and assist in managing their relationships with global counterparts, including China, as highlighted by a Japanese foreign ministry official.

During the summit’s duration until Sunday, Prime Minister Kishida is anticipated to hold individual meetings with leaders from all ASEAN member states, which encompass Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Laos, and Timor-Leste.

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