Japan plans to use foreign aid to developing countries to promote its "free and open Indo-Pacific" strategy, according to the draft annual paper on the country's official development assistance, sources close to the matter said Sunday.

Foreign Minister Taro Kono is expected to report the 2017 white paper on ODA at a Cabinet meeting on Friday. Japan aims to ensure a rules-based order in a wide area stretching from East Asia to Africa.

According to the draft of the white paper, Japan will provide Southeast Asian countries with patrol vessels and related equipment to help strengthen their ability to enforce maritime law.

Through use of ODA, Tokyo aims to improve high-quality infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region and promote flows of people and goods, the draft paper says.

Among global issues, the white paper said that Japan will be engaged in seamless assistance to prevent regional conflicts by linking humanitarian aid and official development assistance.

The paper also said that Japan will take the lead in realizing universal health coverage, an international goal under which all people and communities can use necessary health services without financial hardship.

In 2016, Japan ranked fourth in terms of foreign aid with $16.8 billion after the United States, Germany and Britain.