TOKYO (AFP) - Japan plans to donate retired military patrol aircraft to Malaysia, a report said on Friday (May 5), as alliances strengthen in response to China's maritime claims.
The two countries are among a number in the region stepping up defence cooperation against what they see as Beijing's aggressive stance on the high seas.
Beijing insists it has sovereign rights to almost all of the South China Sea - strategically vital waters, where the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims.
Responding to a request by Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo plans to offer decomissioned P-3C patrol aircraft, the Nikkei business daily said, quoting an unnamed official at the defence ministry.
Japan's parliament is currently deliberating a bill that would allow the nation to provide military equipment to other countries at no cost.
Malaysia will likely be the first beneficiary once the bill is passed, the Nikkei said, without clarifying how many P-3Cs Japan plans to hand off.
The Maritime Self-Defence Force - Japan's navy - currently has some 60 P-3Cs in operation, and plans to retire those that have logged around 15,000 hours' flight.
Immediate confirmation of the report was not available.
As well as its spats around the South China Sea, Beijing is also involved in a simmering territorial row with Tokyo over disputed islands in the East China Sea.