Nov 18 , 2021. 10 hours ago – 00:01 KYODO NEWS
TOKYO – The leaders of Japan and the Philippines agreed Wednesday to consider the launch of security talks involving the two countries’ foreign and defense ministers in an apparent bid to bolster cooperation in dealing with China’s growing maritime assertiveness in the region.
The idea of holding the so-called two-plus-two talks was discussed when Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke by phone with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, during which they also agreed to step up efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to the Foreign Ministry.
If realized, the Philippines would be the ninth country Japan holds the periodic ministerial security talks.
Japan has already formed the two-plus-two framework with the United States, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, India, Indonesia and Russia.
During the phone talks, which lasted about 25 minutes, Kishida expressed his “strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China seas,” according to the ministry.
Duterte is quoted as saying Japan is “a friend closer than a brother.”
The ministry said that the two also agreed to promote concrete cooperation on the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific,” an initiative aimed at maintaining peace, freedom, and prosperity in the region, and work closely on issues related to North Korea, including Pyongyang’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.