Japan stresses rule of law in disputed sea

Kyodo News

Posted at May 02 2016 10:44 PM | Updated as of May 03 2016 07:50 AM

BANGKOK - Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday he agreed with Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha in Bangkok on the importance of resolving maritime security issues based on international law.

Kishida told reporters after meeting with Prayut that he pointed out it is important for the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be united in responding to China's assertiveness in the South China Sea.

ASEAN members have so far taken differing stances on China's maritime activities. Countries such as the Philippines and Vietnam that are engaged in territorial rows with Beijing in the area are opposed to China's ongoing militarization of the South China Sea.

The Japanese minister also said he expressed hope for Thailand to smoothly return to civilian rule. A junta led by Prayut has governed the country since a coup in 2014.

He also briefed Prayut on Tokyo's plans to assist in infrastructure building and personnel training projects in the Mekong region covering Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Prayut affirmed his commitment to improving Thailand's investment climate with Japanese firms in mind.

Later in the day, Kishida gave a speech in Bangkok on Japan's ASEAN policy, praising the bloc's formation late last year of a common economic community aimed at creating a single market across the ASEAN countries.

In the speech delivered at Chulalongkorn University, he also called for enhanced cooperation between ASEAN members to ensure the rule of law to deal with increasing Chinese military presence in the South China Sea.

After Thailand, Kishida is scheduled to visit Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam before returning to Japan on Friday.