India and Japan oppose attempts to ‘unilaterally change the status quo through coercion’
India and Japan said on Tuesday that they firmly oppose all attempts to “unilaterally change the status quo through coercion” and activities that increase tension, in the context of concerns about China’s assertive actions in the region.
The matter figured in a telephone conversation between Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and his Japanese counterpart Nobuo Kishi, according to a reading by the Japanese Ministry of Defense. Without naming China, the reading said the ministers intend to “continue exchanging views in light of current events taking place in the region.”
The statement was perceived as strong support for India’s demand to restore the status quo in the Royal Line of Control (LAC) in the Ladakh sector, where tens of thousands of Indian and Chinese troops have clashed since May. Japan has its own concerns about the activities of Chinese ships in waters around the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
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The two defense ministers “agreed to send a clear message that they are strongly opposed to any attempt to unilaterally change the status quo through coercion or any activity that increases tension,” the reading reads. Singh and Kishi also “shared the view to highlight the importance of a free and open maritime order based on the rule of law,” he said.
They also agreed to “vigorously promote defense cooperation and exchanges to defend and strengthen the free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Singh said in a tweet that he and Kishi had expressed satisfaction with the ongoing bilateral defense cooperation. “India is committed to further raising commitments to Japan under the global and special strategic partnership,” he added, without giving details.
In July, Japanese Ambassador Satoshi Suzuki had said that his country opposes any “unilateral attempt to change the status quo” throughout LAC after a conversation with Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla.
In recent weeks, there has been closer coordination among the four members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue or Quad (India, Australia, Japan, and the US) in the wake of China’s aggressive actions in the Indo-Pacific. The Australian Navy participated in the Malabar trilateral naval exercise after an interval of several years.
During their phone conversation, Singh and Kishi exchanged views on regional situations, including in the East China Sea and the South China Sea, and reaffirmed their continued close cooperation, according to the reading.
The two ministers also discussed recent achievements such as the signing of the Japan-India Acquisition and Cross Services Agreement (ACSA) or the logistical support agreement in September and the successful completion of the Malabar naval exercise in November.
They welcomed the fact that bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation and exchanges were promoted despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
Singh and Kishi further discussed cooperation against the risks posed by infectious diseases that could affect peace and security and promoting efforts between India and Japan, such as sharing lessons learned in humanitarian aid and disaster response operations during the pandemic, finding new opportunities for cooperation in third countries. to make them more resistant to the pandemic and exchange views on strengthening the rules-based international order, including working together to counter misinformation in the context of the pandemic.