Japan Ministry of Defense (MOD) Minister Taro Kono and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana held telephone conversation on May 12. The two defense chiefs tackled COVID-19 and current regional security issues including the South China Sea and the East China Sea.
One of the key points the defense chiefs agree was to vigorously promote “defense cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo-Pacific while maintaining communication between the defense authorities.”
“Minister Kono explained about the activities and infection-preventative measures Japan Self-Defense Forces have undertaken in their operation on the cruise ship Diamond Princess which resulted in having no deployed member infected with the virus, and analysis by the SDF Central Hospital by using a presentation document. Secretary Lorenzana also explained about the recent activities and measures taken by in the Philippines,” the Japanese MOD said in a statement.
It added that the two officials shared understanding that they strongly oppose attempt to unilaterally change the status quo by force and any activities that add to the tension and that free and open maritime order based on the rule of law is important.
“Minister Kono, taking into consideration the implications of COVID-19, expressed the importance of both countries’ maintaining seamless defense posture and of continued and strengthened bilateral defense cooperation to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo-Pacific,” the Japanese MOD said.
They agreed on (1) sharing information, knowledge and lessons learned about the measures taken by the defense authorities towards overcoming COVID-19 at the earliest stage; (2) necessity of sharing threat recognition based on the current circumstances and potential effects of the spread of COVID-19 on defense policy of each country; and (3) promoting vigorously defense cooperation and exchanges to uphold and reinforce the Free and Open Indo-Pacific while maintaining communication between the defense authorities.