11/18/2023, 12.14
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Tokyo delivers anti-Chinese military aid to Dhaka

Japan's decision to supply patrol boats to Bangladesh will make Dhakka the second recipient of defence equipment under Tokyo's new military and security assistance programme

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Japan aims to strengthen Bangladesh's maritime security by helping it to counter Chinese naval incursions in the Indian Ocean and by signing an agreement - signed by the two countries on Wednesday in Dhaka - which provides for the supply of ships through a grant worth 575 million yen (.82 million) under the security assistance program unveiled in April.

Added to these are approximately 600 million yen of military supplies that the Fumio Kishida government sends to the Philippines, the first recipient of the OAS, for the acquisition of coastal surveillance radars, which are also part of an agreement signed at the beginning of this month.

The OAS is a sort of FMS (Foreign Military Sale) wanted by the Government of Tokyo to help on the one hand the countries with which it has established the greatest ties in an anti-North Korean, Chinese and Russian function, including Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines, beyond Australia, South Korea and India and on the other to support the Japanese Defense industry to export its products.

The Foreign Ministry in Tokyo did not provide further details on the type of boats supplied to Bangladesh, saying only that they are intended to strengthen the South Asian Navy's monitoring, surveillance and disaster relief capabilities, particularly in Bay of Bengal, which the ministry described as "an important maritime and trade route" to Japan. Furthermore, the number of ships has yet to be confirmed, but ministry officials said the allocation would be for four vessels.

Malaysia and Fiji are also already in advanced negotiations for military supplies, while Vietnam and Djibouti are among those considered as potential beneficiaries starting next year. In total, Kishida's government has allocated 2 billion yen for this type of supply this year, a reversal of Japan's previous policy of avoiding the use of military aid.

The objective, says Tokyo, is to strengthen the security and deterrence capabilities of these nations with a view to "a regional defense architecture" also favorable for Japan and in response to China's footprint in Bangladesh which has grown in significantly, particularly through projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Furthermore, Beijing is not only Dhaka's largest trading partner, but also its largest supplier of military equipment, with China accounting for 74% of Bangladesh's arms imports in 2018-22, according to data from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

For its part, Tokyo is trying to use the OAS to reduce this dependence and diversify Dhaka's defense equipment suppliers.

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