MANILA—Japan will "strengthen approaches" in Asia to maintain maritime order in a bid to be at the forefront of security in the region, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday.
"In order to secure peace and security and prosperity in the region, Japan and the United States want to hand-in-hand play a leading role," Abe said in a press conference on the sidelines of a 2-day summit where world leaders gathered to discuss regional issues.
Abe said Japan would increase contributions in human-resource development, supply of goods, and knowledge contribution, as well as continue providing assistance related to maritime law enforcement, capacity-building, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Southeast Asia.
Abe said Japan will provide 2 billion yen (about P900 million) in assistance over a 2-year span to improve maritime security in southern Philippines, particularly in the Sulu and Celebes seas where piracy is rampant.
"We maintain maritime order which is free and open and based on rule of law in the Indo-Pacific so that we can make this an international public good, which brings stability and prosperity to all countries without discrimination," he said.
"If countries subscribe to this view, including China, we believe we can cooperate with any country."
Cooperate, not compete
Japan earlier clarified that it prefers to "cooperate with China," instead of competing with Beijing for regional influence.
"I held summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang making a new start in Sino-Japanese relationship. The important point is to build win-win relationships which is rules-based, free and open," he said.
Last week, China and Japan also agreed to accelerate talks for an early implementation of a communication mechanism between their militaries, Abe said, adding that he also spoke with Russian officials to foster better ties and cooperation.
Japan used to team up with the US and South Korea against a China-Russia partnership for regional supremacy, but North Korea's development of nuclear and ballistic missile systems may have had a hand in Japan opening communication lines with Beijing and Moscow.
"The international society should unite to ramp up United Nations Security Council resolutions to unite and ramp up pressure to the maximum level," Abe said.
"We should create a situation in which North Korea comes to us to ask for dialogue in exchange for changing their policies."