Japan, India leaders oppose China attempt to alter status quo
Written by tokyoclub on September 24, 2021
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and India’s counterpart Narendra Modi pose for a photo before talks on Sept. 23, 2021, in Washington. (Kyodo)
Japanese 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 assertiveness in regional waters.
Their first in-person summit in Washington took place ahead of a leaders’ meeting of the Quad group, which also involves the United States and Australia. The group is seen as a counterweight to China’s growing clout in the Indo-Pacific region.
During the 45-minute talks, Suga and Modi affirmed the importance of realizing a “free and open” Indo-Pacific and agreed to closely work bilaterally as well as with the Quad members to build a rules-based international order, according to a press release by the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
In that context, the two leaders “shared their strong opposition against economic coercion and unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China seas,” the ministry said.
Beijing in recent years has become more assertive regarding its claim to the Senkaku Islands, a group of Japan-administered islets in the East China Sea that are called Diaoyu by Beijing. It has also militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea despite a 2016 international ruling against its claims in the waters.
Suga also conveyed to Modi that he strongly condemns North Korea’s recent test-firing of ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, calling it a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. He also called for India to cooperate in finding a solution to the issue of Pyongyang’s past abduction of Japanese nationals.
The two countries also agreed to continue work to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and to seek to hold security talks involving their foreign and defense ministers soon.
Suga will be stepping down imminently as he has decided not to seek re-election as the leader of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party when it holds its presidential election next week, meaning the party will choose his successor as prime minister.