Japan, EU defend ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific amid China’s rise

Tokyo, May 12 (EFE).- Japan and the European Union said they defend a “free and open Indo-Pacific” against China’s military rise in the region, in which the countries aspire to be “more active,” representatives of both powers said at a Thursday summit.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and the Presidents of the European Council Charles Michel and of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, sent this message to Beijing in a joint statement after meeting in Tokyo.

They also said they promised to strengthen their cooperation to apply “strong sanctions” on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine and to bring to justice those responsible for “war crimes” committed in that conflict, during the summit held between both parties.

Kishida, Michel and Von der Leyen spoke of the “shared values” between the two powers and need to “deepen their collaboration” in the face of the most pressing challenges “to the international order and multilateralism,” including Russian aggression and China’s “assertiveness.”

“We want to deepen our consultations on a more assertive China,” said Michel, who added that Beijing “should support a multilateral system from which it has benefited.”

The Indo-Pacific “is an increasingly prosperous region but with growing tensions,” said Von der Leyen, who specifically pointed to the continuous weapons tests of North Korea and China’s greater military profile.

The EU seeks “a more active role” and “more responsibility” in a region that they consider “vital for their prosperity,” the European Commission president added.

Kishida said both Japan and the EU “will jointly discuss any attempt to change the status quo or economic coercion” in the area, with a view to promoting a “free and open” Indo-Pacific.

The Japanese leader and those responsible for the EU showed their alignment with the strategy coined by Tokyo and Washington to counteract the growing geostrategic weight of China and the increase in its military maritime activities in the region.

As for Russia, which was the other main topic on the meeting’s agenda, Japan and the EU stressed their willingness to continue coordinating their punitive measures against Moscow within the framework of the G7. They also said they would continue offering Ukraine humanitarian assistance, logistical and military (although Tokyo only sends non-lethal equipment).

“Russia’s aggression shakes the entire international order and cannot be tolerated,” Kishida said. EFE


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