Japan's Suga sends offering to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine

Japan's Suga sends offering to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine”

His predecessor, Shinzo Abe, had also regularly sent offerings via an aide on the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War Two (WWII) and during the shrine's spring and autumn festivals, refraining from visiting in person to avoid angering China and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

Mr Phuc welcomed Japan's "active role in contributing to the regional and global peace and stability", in response to Mr Suga's promise that his country will continue to contribute to regional peace and prosperity.

Indonesia's exclusive economic zone overlaps with China's nine-dash line, which marks the world's second-largest economy's expansive claims in the South China Sea, while Vietnam is one of the claimants in territorial disputes in the sea area.

Mr Suga used the term "free and open Indo-Pacific" to refer to Japan's foreign policy goals in the South China Sea. Vietnam is a 12th partner, while Japan is still negotiating deals with Indonesia and Thailand. Just $5 a month.

Neither of the two leaders mentioned China by name in their news conference.

In a speech later Monday at Vietnam-Japan University, Suga said that Japan's "Free and Open Indo-Pacific" concept and "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific", formulated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in 2019, share values such as rule of law, openness, transparency and freedom. But the rising Asian superpower is central to the complementary interests of Tokyo and Hanoi.

More news: China's economy accelerates as virus recovery gains strength

In his VJU speech, Suga talked up Japan's contributions to Southeast Asia's sustainable development, describing the Japanese government's official development assistance and capital investments from Japanese companies as "the two wheels of a cart".

Suga and Phuc signed other agreements to cooperate in a range of economic fields and on anti-terrorism measures. It has been the choice of half of the 30 Japanese firms that have taken advantage of a 23.5 billion yen ($222 million) government program to diversify supply chains into Southeast Asia. Suga and Phuc also agreed to resume regular flights between their nations at an early date.

18 kicked off a four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, his first overseas tour, to bolster ties with ASEAN nations to counter an increasingly assertive China.

While critics have said the initiative lacks substance, Japan and its counterparts have sought to add more teeth to the vision, including through such means as the Quad group, comprising Japan, the United States, India and Australia, which China has criticised as "stoking a new Cold War".

They also witnessed the signing of agreements for Japan's Marubeni Corp to invest US$1.3 billion (S$1.76 billion) in a power plant, and another for Tokyo Gas and PetroVietnam Power Corp to jointly build a US$1.9 billion gas-fired plant. According to Vietnam's Ministry of Planning and Investment, Japanese firms had invested almost $60 billion in registered capital, or 15.7 percent of the total. Visits to the shrine by Japanese leaders have been a key source of tension in the region as Asian neighbors view the visits as an attempt to beautify the country's militaristic past.

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