May 6, 2022, 04.59 PM
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (right) welcomes Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (left) at Bogor Palace near Jakarta on Friday, April 28, 2022. dok. Sekretariat PresidenIndonesia's President Joko Widodo (right) welcomes Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (left) at Bogor Palace near Jakarta on Friday, April 28, 2022.

Thailand, meanwhile, is chair of this year’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which is scheduled for November. Putin appeared at last year’s summit via teleconference but has not announced plans for this year.

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Both Thailand and Indonesia voted in favor of a UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but have been hesitant to take any further action.

Vietnam, for its part, abstained from the General Assembly vote and has closer ties to Russia, a major source of its military weaponry. From 2000 to 2019, over 80 percent of Vietnam’s weapons imports came from Russia, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

However, Hanoi is engaged in long-running maritime disputes with China over islands in the South China Sea and may be susceptible to arguments that the global rules-based order is at stake, according to Tsu-chaing Huang, assistant professor at National Taiwan Normal University.

After meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi on May 1, Kishida told reporters that he and Chinh “agreed to strongly oppose any attempts to change the status quo by force in the South China Sea.”

The premiers also agreed to enhance cooperation on Vietnam’s maritime security and on Japan’s Self-Defense Forces helping the country to strengthen its cybersecurity skills, according to Japan’s Kyodo news service.

Tsai, the Tamkang University professor, said Japan has been helping Vietnam to build its military capacity for many years to counter China’s maritime threats. Most recently, two training ships from Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted a three-day visit to Vietnam’s Tien Sa port in February.

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Kishida also announced a new defense agreement with Thailand on the last day of his Southeast Asia tour before continuing to Europe for stops in Italy and Britain. The agreement would facilitate the transfer of Japanese defense hardware and technology to Thailand. Japan already has such deals with other ASEAN members, including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

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