Japan, India oppose China’s attempt to change maritime status quo

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday expressed “strong opposition” to unilateral attempts to change the maritime status quo, the Japanese government said, alluding to Beijing’s assertion in regional waters.

Their first in-person summit was held in Washington before a Quad Group leaders meeting, which also involves the United States and Australia. The group is seen as a counterweight to China’s growing weight in the Indo-Pacific region.

During the 45-minute talks, Suga and Modi affirmed the importance of achieving a “free and open” Indo-Pacific and agreed to work closely bilaterally as well as with Quad members to build a well-founded international order. on rules, according to a press release. communicated by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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In this context, the two leaders “shared their strong opposition to economic coercion and unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China Seas,” the ministry said.

In recent years, Beijing has become more assertive about its claim to the Senkaku Islands, a group of Japanese-administered islets in the East China Sea that are referred to as Diaoyu by Beijing. It has also militarized man-made islands in the South China Sea despite a 2016 international ruling against its claims in the waters.

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (left) greets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (right) ahead of their talks in Washington on Thursday. | KYODO

Suga also let Modi know that he strongly condemns North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test firing in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, calling it a violation of UN Security Council resolutions. He also called on India to cooperate to find a solution to the problem of the past kidnapping of Japanese nationals by Pyongyang.

The two countries also agreed to continue their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and to seek to hold security talks involving their foreign and defense ministers in the near future.

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Suga will step down imminently as he has decided not to run for president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in its presidential elections next week, meaning the party will choose his successor as Premier. Minister.

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