Japan’s Kishida advocates ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific amid China’s expansion

Jakarta, Sep 6 (EFE).- Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday advocated an “free and open” Indo-Pacific amid tensions with China over its territorial expansion.

Kishida made these remarks in Jakarta, where a summit of the leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is being held until Thursday.

“The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) shares fundamental principles such as openness, transparency, inclusiveness, and respect for international law with a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP)’ which Japan has been promoting,” Kishida said in his address.

“As a consistent supporter of ASEAN Centrality and unity, Japan was among the first countries to express its full support for the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific in 2019,” he added, in a readout of the speech posted on the prime minister’s website.

The Japanese leader advocated boosting cooperation with ASEAN member countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Brunei, in infrastructure development, digital connectivity, maritime cooperation and supply chain resilience, among others.

He also pledged to “support the improvement of electricity connectivity” to “ensure a stable electric power supply” in the ASEAN region.

“By promoting technical cooperation with ASEAN countries and strengthening our network, Japan will grow together with ASEAN,” he added.

Kishida aims to strengthen cooperation with ASEAN countries to counter China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang is also attending the summit.

China and Japan dispute the sovereignty of some islands in the East China Sea (called Senkaku by Tokyo and Diaoyu by Beijing).

Several countries in the region accuse China of having escalated its expansionist activities and methods aggression against the coast guard of other nations in the South and East China Seas.

Meanwhile, China has strongly opposed Japan’s plan to discharge treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, which began on Aug. 24.

In both Jakarta and New Delhi, where he will travel for the G20 summit over the weekend, Kishida is expected to speak about the release of the treated Fukushima water.

Before departing on Tuesday for Indonesia, Kishida told reporters that he hoped to “explain Japan’s transparent handling of the treated water in collaboration with the IAEA to gain understanding and cooperation at multilateral and bilateral summits.”

Also taking part in the summit in Jakarta are Canadian, Australian and Indian prime ministers, Justin Trudeau, Anthony Albanese and Narendra Modi respectively as well US Vice President Kamala Harris, UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Kishida plans to hold bilateral meetings with Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, according to Japanese foreign sources, who also left the door open for other possible meetings. EFE


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