Japan opposes any actions that escalate tension in the East and South China Seas, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday, but added that Tokyo was not aiming at an “Asian NATO” to contain any specific country.
Suga was wrapping up a four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia, his first overseas since taking office last month, as part of Japan’s efforts to bolster ties with key Southeast Asian nations amid concerns about China’s growing assertiveness there.
“Japan is opposed to any actions that escalate tensions in the South China Sea,” Suga told a news conference in the Indonesian capital.
“Let me stress anew the importance of all the countries concerning the South China Sea issues not resorting to force or coercion, but working toward peaceful resolutions of the disputes based on international law.”
The trip follows this month’s meeting in Tokyo of the “Quad”, an informal grouping of India, Australia, Japan and the United States that Washington sees as a bulwark against China’s growing regional influence.
China has denounced the grouping of the four democracies as a “mini-NATO” aimed at containing its development.