July 14 (UPI) -- Japan is expanding defense cooperation and exchange with Fiji in the South Pacific, after donating $2.3 million in aid to help Fijians recover from natural disasters.
Sankei Shimbun reported Sunday Japan's self-defense forces are to engage in "capacity-building assistance" to the Oceanian country, a program that includes long-term education and training recipient countries.
According to Japan's defense ministry, the objective of CBA is to utilize the capabilities of Tokyo's self-defense forces in order to "stabilize and improve the international security environment in order to secure Japan's national security."
The decision from the Japanese government comes at a time when China is militarizing artificial islands in the South China Sea, and Beijing's carriers could be sailing to areas of the Pacific Ocean near Guam.
As part of defense-related support to Fiji, Japan has agreed to deploy its military for future disaster relief.
Members of Fiji's military are to be invited to Japan for training, and to learn to operate equipment related medical and other humanitarian operations.
The Japanese decision to bolster military-related support to Fiji comes after Japan donated cranes, tractors and fiberglass boats to the country following widespread damage from tropical cyclones.
Fiji's Agriculture Minister Mahendra Reddy said the assistance was "timely," according to Radio New Zealand last week.
Japan's capacity-building assistance program began in 2010; the program was expanded in 2013.
In 2015 Japan passed a law that allows Tokyo's self-defense forces to operate overseas.