Japan, Philippines express ‘serious concern’ over China’s military expansion

Tokyo, Apr 9 (EFE).- The foreign and defense ministers of Japan and the Philippines on Saturday expressed “serious concern” over the situation in the Pacific region due to China’s military activities in a joint statement, with both countries being involved in territorial disputes with Beijing.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi met their respective Filipino counterparts Teodoro Locsin and Delfin Lorenzana in Tokyo on Saturday for a “2+2” dialog.

“Japan concurred with the Philippines’ long standing objections to unlawful maritime claims, militarization, coercive activities and threat or use of force in the South China Sea,” the statement said.

Without directly referring to Beijing, the ministerial group also reiterated its commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” an initiative launched jointly by the United States and Japan to counter the growing geostrategic threat posed by China in the region.

Japan has raised alarm over China’s repeated military exercises near Senkaku, a group of islands administered by Tokyo which are also claimed by Beijing, which calls them Diaoyu.

China is also involved in territorial disputes with the Philippines and other southeast Asian countries over maritime areas, islands and shoals in South China Sea.

After the meetings, the Japanese foreign minister told reporters that the two countries were facing many challenges to the established international order, especially underlining China’s “unilateral attempts to change the status-quo in the region.”

Regarding the situation in Ukraine, the four ministers said that the Russian aggression “constitutes a serious violation of international law,” and urged “an immediate stop of the use of force and the withdrawal of the military forces from the territory of Ukraine.”

The statement stressed “the need to exert all efforts to de-escalate the situation and continue pursuing dialogue and diplomacy to settle disputes.”

This was the first of its kind “2+2” ministerial dialog between Japan and the Philippines, and comes after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte agreed in November to hold such a summit.

In recent years, Tokyo has also maintained similar “2+2” meetings with the US, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, India, Indonesia and Russia. EFE


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