Japan and Thailand Announce New Defense and Economy Deal

On Monday, Thailand and Japan announced new deals between the two nations, including a defense agreement and a plan to improve their economic ties.

The announcement was made when Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida concluded his three-country tour across Southeast Asia.

According to Japanese and Thai leaders, the defense agreement would allow Japan to transfer defense hardware and technology to Thailand to repower its army, considered one of the world’s largest and best-equipped armies.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha revealed that the two governments had discussed a five-year economic partnership and improvements to local supply chains.

General Prayut emphasized that the new agreements were expected to stimulate investment from Japan, the kingdom’s largest investor, in national defense.

Japan has shown interest in Southeast Asia for decades. Even though the region has become a battleground between Tokyo’s ally, the United States, and Southeast Asia’s biggest trading partner China, it is home to major Japanese companies.

Most Japanese firms operate in the infrastructure, vehicle manufacturing, engineering, industrial zones and electronic products industries, playing a significant role in the nation’s development.

During his three-day trip, when he also visited Vietnam and Indonesia, Mr. Kishida discussed the current Russia-Ukraine situation as the only Asian member of the Group of Seven (G7).

Moscow has described its invasion of Ukraine as a “special operation,” but world leaders have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions and called to stop the war. In Southeast Asia, only Singapore joined the sanctions against Russia.

However, Mr. Kishida thanked Thailand and eight more countries in the region for backing a United Nations resolution condemning the invasion in March.

The Japanese prime minister said he had agreed with General Prayut that violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity or “unilateral changes to the status quo with force” in any region “should not be tolerated.”

In another Monday development, Japan’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs Noriyuki Shikata revealed that his government had approved a loan of 50 billion yen, equivalent to 13 billion baht, to support Thailand’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.