MANILA, Aug. 8 — Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Monday urged East Asian countries to uphold a free and fair economic order amid protectionism to continue outshining the rest of the world.
Kono underscored the need for the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three (China, Japan, South Korea) to work together closely, noting the recent trends in the economic and the financial markets of the world.
“APT (ASEAN Plus Three) should concentrate on economic matters, that’s maybe the purpose of the forum,” he said in a press briefing here.
This, even as Japan, along with Australia and the United States, raised the issues on the South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear weapons program during the seventh ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) here.
“I underscore the need to strictly and fully implement United Nations Security Council Resolutions, including the very recent one and to further exert pressure on North Korea,” Kono said.
North Korea conducted its first tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles last July 4 and 28 following previous ballistic missile launches and two nuclear tests in 2016.
Kono also expressed great concern over the South China Sea issue.
“And of course, any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force, rule of the law is at stake. In this regard, I emphasized the importance of 2016 arbitral award and realize no militarization of disputed features,” he said.
On July 12 last year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague invalidated China’s “nine-dash line” entitlement over the entire West Philippine Sea because it overlapped with the Philippine 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).”
ASEAN and China on Sunday approved the framework for a code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea and targeted to start the negotiations on the actual code by the end of the year.