Locsin, Motegi reaffirm upholding rule of law in South China Sea disputes
The Philippines and Japan reaffirmed on Thursday to continue their cooperation and in upholding the rule of law amid the disputes in the South China Sea.
In a joint press statement at Makati Shangri-la Hotel after their bilateral meeting, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he had candid exchanges with his counterpart, Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu on issues such as the rule of law in the maritime commons and the situation in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
"We committed to continue our cooperation ? bilaterally and in all possible forums ? to maintain peace and security, stability and the rule of law in our region," he said.
The Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries, like Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam, as well as China and Taiwan have conflicting claims in the South China Sea. Indonesia, which is also a member country of ASEAN, has a conflict with China in parts of the South China Sea.
Motegi cited the important location of the Philippines in connecting parts of the world.
"The Philippines is located at a great crossroad of which connects the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean as well as the North Hemisphere and the South Hemisphere. It is an important strategic partner that holds the key to realizing free and open in the Pacific concept advocated by Japan," he said.
"Secretary Locsin and I were able to deepen our discussion from such perspectives and agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in wide areas, including security and enforcement of the laws of the sea," he added.
Locsin said he and Motegi also discussed future acquisitions from Japan to further modernize the Philippine Armed Forces and maritime forces.
Locasin expressed the Duterte administration's gratitude to Japan for its support in Mindanao, particularly in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Motegi said Japan welcomes the non-extension of martial law in Mindanao.
"With regard to peace in Mindanao, we welcome the lifting of martial law at the end of last year. Japan also supports activities for disarmament and retirement of Moro Islamic Liberation Front soldiers and we will strengthen support for social infrastructure which will enable people in Mindanao to actually feel the dividend of peace," he added.
After more than two-and-a-half years since the declaration of martial law in May 2017, Duterte supported the recommendation of various quarters not to further extend anymore martial rule in southern Philippines after it expired on December 31.
Motegi said he and Locsin also agreed to closely work together for the complete denuclearization of North Korea including full implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.
He also sought Locsin's cooperation for the early resolution of abduction involving Japanese in North Korea. Celerina Monte/DMS