The deal would facilitate the transfer of defense equipment and technology from Japan to Thailand, which has one of the largest and best-equipped armies in the region and a long history of ties with the US military.
“This will help improve national defense and support Japan’s investment in this activity which is an important goal for Thailand,” Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in a joint statement read alongside Kishida.
Prayuth said he discussed improvements to supply chains and the drafting of a five-year economic partnership with Japan, the biggest investor in Thailand.
Southeast Asia has been an important region for Japan for decades, home to some of its biggest names in industry, from infrastructure, engineering and industrial zones to vehicle and electronics manufacturing. .
The region remains a battleground between the United States, a close ally of Japan, and its rival, China, Southeast Asia’s biggest trading partner. During his three-day trip, Kishida also visited Vietnam and Indonesia, where Japanese companies maintain a large presence.
However, nine Southeast Asian countries backed a United Nations resolution in March condemning the invasion, and Kishida thanked Prayuth for Thailand’s support.
“I have agreed with Prime Minister Prayuth that in no region should the violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity, or unilateral changes to the status quo with force, be tolerated,” he said.
Noriyuki Shikata, Japan’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Affairs, told reporters on Monday that Tokyo would provide a 50 billion yen ($385 million) loan to support Thailand’s Covid-19 mitigation efforts.