Japan, US to back ASEAN's sea surveillance

Japan and the United States will pledge to jointly help Southeast Asian nations boost their marine surveillance capabilities, a newspaper said Saturday, as tensions over territorial disputes in the region simmer.

TOKYO: Japan and the United States will pledge to jointly help Southeast Asian nations boost their marine surveillance capabilities, a newspaper said Saturday, as tensions over territorial disputes in the region simmer.

US President Barack Obama will discuss the issue with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Japan next week. A deal is expected to be included in the joint statement signed by both leaders and issued after the summit meeting, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Under the planned accord, the two countries are expected to offer patrol vessels to members of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), the mass-circulation daily said, citing unnamed sources.

They will also agree to train ASEAN coastguards and help the countries develop an information-sharing system against pirates and suspicious ships in the region, the newspaper said.

The Japan-US initiative is aimed at helping ASEAN members not only take effective measures against pirates and natural disasters but also boost their deterrence capacity against China's assertive claim to disputed territories, it added.

"Improving ASEAN's ocean surveillance capability will benefit Japan and the United States," a Japanese government official said, according to Yomiuri.

China and Japan are at loggerheads over the ownership of a string of islands in the East China Sea, while Beijing is also in dispute with several nations over territory in the South China Sea, which it claims almost in its entirety.

Last year, Foxnews reported that Kerry announced new US maritime security aid to Vietnam amid China tensions, pushes reforms.

The U.S. will provide an additional $32.5 million to help Southeast Asian nations protect their territorial waters and secure navigational freedom, Kerry said. Vietnam alone will receive up to $18 million, including five fast patrol-boats that will be given to the Vietnamese Coast Guard, he said. With the new contribution, U.S. maritime security assistance to the region will exceed $156 million over the next two years, the State Department said.

By December 2013, Japan Times reported that Japan and Vietnam would discuss the idea of providing Japanese patrol ships to the Vietnam coast guard to help counter China’s growing claims to contested reefs and islands in the South China Sea.

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