CHIBA, Japan --- A defense official said Monday that Japan is seeking to increase its sales of military equipment to Southeast Asian nations amid growing tensions with China and North Korea.
The move is part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to bolster Japan's military role and its sales of defense equipment, especially in Southeast Asia, where China has expanded its own arms sales.
Hideaki Watanabe, head of the Defense Ministry's Acquisition Technology and Logistics Agency, said Japan will host a meeting Thursday with defense officials from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss the sharing of equipment and technology.
He spoke Monday at an international arms exhibit near Tokyo that was attended by hundreds of defense officials and industry leaders from around the world.
Watanabe said there have been aggressive attempts by nations in recent years to change the status quo, in an apparent reference to China's building of artificial islands in disputed areas of the South China Sea.
"It is essential to maintain the open and stable sea under the rule of law," he said. "Ensuring safety of navigation and flight contributes to the peace and prosperity of Japan and international society. Japan's research and development of high-quality defense equipment contributes to the defense of Japan and elsewhere." (end of excerpt)
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