Japan and the European Union affirmed on Monday the importance of rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region at the bloc's external policy meeting, as Tokyo explained security challenges amid China's maritime assertiveness.
Joining the EU Foreign Affairs Council's regular meeting via videoconference, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told his EU peers Japan wants to promote cooperation with the bloc to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, based on the rule of law and freedom of navigation, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.
Japan attended the meeting for the first time after the European Union asked Motegi to join amid China's rising assertiveness to reinforce expansive maritime claims in the Indo-Pacific region, including in the East and South China seas.
Europe's interest is growing toward the Indo-Pacific in light of China's rising clout and the region's economic potential, with France, Germany and the Netherlands having compiled diplomatic guidelines for the region. The European Union is in talks to compile an Indo-Pacific policy on its own.
Motegi welcomed the developments and articulated the need to cooperate with like-minded partners, including the United States, to meet the security and other challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region, the ministry said.
The Japanese minister is not the first from outside the bloc to be invited to the EU Foreign Affairs Council, a body responsible for the bloc's external policies.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha took part in the council meeting in 2019 and 2018, respectively, according to the ministry.