Japan, US to jointly support Asean's sea surveillance, says a report

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel shaking hands with Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera before a bilateral meeting at the Japanese Ministry of Defence headquarters in Tokyo on April 6, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS
US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel shaking hands with Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera before a bilateral meeting at the Japanese Ministry of Defence headquarters in Tokyo on April 6, 2014. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan and the United States will pledge to jointly help South-east Asian nations boost their marine surveillance capabilities, a newspaper said on Saturday, as tensions over territorial disputes in the region simmer.

US President Barak Obama will discuss the issue with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his visit to Japan next week.

A deal is expected to be included in the joint statement signed by both leaders and issued after the summit meeting, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

Under the planned accord, the two countries are expected to offer patrol vessels to members of the Association of South-east Asia Nations (Asean), the mass-circulation daily said, citing unnamed sources.

They will also agree to train Asean coastguards and help the countries develop an information-sharing system against pirates and suspicious ships in the region, the newspaper said.

The Japan-US initiative is aimed at helping Asean members not only take effective measures against pirates and natural disasters but also boost their deterrence capacity against China's assertive claim to disputed territories, it added.

"Improving Asean's ocean surveillance capability will benefit Japan and the United States," a Japanese government official said, according to Yomiuri.

China and Japan are at loggerheads over the ownership of a string of islands in the East China Sea, while Beijing is also in dispute with several nations over territory in the South China Sea, which it claims almost in its entirety.