Japan and ASEAN Join Forces to Safeguard Rule of Law Amid China's Ascendancy

Japan and ASEAN Join Forces to Safeguard Rule of Law Amid China's Ascendancy

TOKYO (Kyodo) - In the face of China's increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, justice ministers from Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have pledged to cooperate in upholding the rule of law.

Following their meeting in Tokyo, Japanese Justice Minister Ken Saito and his ASEAN counterparts issued a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes, rejecting the use or threat of force.

Japan and the 10-member ASEAN emphasized their dedication to shared values and fundamental principles, including the rule of law, respect for human rights, national sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

With the momentum of the 50th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan friendship and cooperation this year, the ministers expressed their intention to enhance cooperation in the fields of law and justice.

The substantial collaboration between Tokyo and the regional bloc began in 1973 with the establishment of a Japan-ASEAN forum on synthetic rubber.

Minister Saito alsopledged continued legal technical assistance through his ministry's International Cooperation Department of the Research and Training Institute for ASEAN countries.

This gathering preceded the justice ministerial talks between ASEAN and the Group of Seven (G7) nations, scheduled to take place on Friday in Tokyo. The G7 ministers will also convene separately on the same day. Japan currently holds the rotating presidency of the G7.

In recent years, Japan has sought to strengthen ties with ASEAN as some of its members have become more wary of China's growing military presence in the East and South China seas.

Japan and China remain at odds over the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, controlled by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing as Diaoyu. Chinese coast guard vessels have frequently entered Japanese territorial waters around the uninhabited islets.

Several ASEAN members, including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, also have overlapping territorial claims with China.

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