Japan opposes ‘unilateral attempts’ to change status quo in South China Sea

The Japanese government expressed its opposition to unilateral attempts that undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea during a summit teleconference with President Rodrigo Duterte Wednesday.

In a readout, the Japanese Embassy in Manila said Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide also shared “grave concerns” about recent developments in China, particularly the passage of a Chinese law that permits its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels it deemed infringing on its sovereignty or jurisdiction.

“Japanese Prime Minister Suga expressed his opposition to the continued and strengthened unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and shared grave concerns about recent developments in China, including the Coast Guard Law,” the embassy said.

“The two leaders concurred to work together closely toward the maintenance of peace and stability in the region under the rule of law such as the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea),” it added.

Japan is among the first countries to share concern over the swarming of Chinese vessels at the Julian Felipe Reef, located within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, last March 2021.

Issues surrounding the contested South China Sea are “directly related to peace and stability and a concern for all”, it said. It also emphasized its “strong” opposition to any action that heightens tensions in the region.

In light of the 65th anniversary of the normalization of the Japan-Philippines diplomatic relations and a decade-old Strategic Partnership, Duterte and Suga also agreed to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific, including the Asean Outlook for the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).

The two leaders shared the intention to strengthen cooperation in the Sulu and Celebes Seas and surrounding areas, the embassy said. PNA.GOV.PH