Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and his Vietnamese counterpart, Phung Quang Thanh, have agreed to boost cooperation in maritime security amid concern over China’s growing naval activities, Japanese officials said. During talks Monday in Hanoi, Onodera was quoted by the officials as telling Thanh that the rule of law and dialogue are vital in settling security disputes.

In June, Michael T. Sestak, a former cop and naval officer who went on to work for the US Foreign Service in Vietnam, was brought before a judge in Washington, DC on corruption charges. Sestak was allegedly a major part of one of the most lucrative illegal visa scams in history—while he was employed at the US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City, he had a side business rubber-stamping fraudulent visa applications for paying clients fed to him by a Vietnamese-American family, a gig that netted nearly $10 million all together according to the Department of Justice.

In conflicts and post-conflict zones all over the globe, UN peacekeepers play an essential role supporting peace and stability. Supporting these efforts is the United States’ Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI). Vietnam has been working closely with both the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense to begin building its peacekeeping capabilities, and through GPOI, take its first formal steps towards contributing individuals and units to UN peacekeeping missions.

A controversial internet law prohibiting Vietnamese citizens from posting any content online that harms national security or opposes the state took effect Sunday. The new law, dubbed Decree 72, limits what Vietnamese citizens can post on their online personal pages, including Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Decree 72 does not elaborate on what constitutes a breach.

Vietnam's government is to decide policy in managing free internet-based telecom tools like Viber, Line and Whatsapp, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said on Friday, a move bound to increase concerns about Communist Party censorship. State media said the government might "ban" free messaging services because of the harm done to network providers. Vietnam has repeatedly come under fire for curbs on free speech and harsh treatment for bloggers who dare to criticize the one-party regime.

Market forces are working against college degrees in Marx, Lenin and Ho Chi Minh studies in Vietnam, where the Communist government has resorted to offering free tuition to attract students. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung signed a decree last month giving free tuition to students agreeing to take four-year courses on Marxism-Leninism and the thoughts of Ho Chi Minh, the country's revolutionary hero, at state-run universities.

The 21st Hoi An – Japan cultural exchange program will take place in the ancient town of Hoi An from August 23-25. The program was first held since 2003 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and Japan. This year, the program will include display of cultural exchange photos and Hoi An – Japan cooperation activities during the past ten years. Viet Nam and Japan have officially established diplomatic relations in 1973. So far, the bilateral ties have been continually consolidated and enhanced in all fields.

The US has criticised a new internet decree in Vietnam that would restrict online users from discussing current affairs. The law, announced last week and due to come into force in September, says social media should only be used for "[exchanging] personal information". The US embassy in Hanoi said it was "deeply concerned" by the decree.