South China Sea: Japan and Australia unite against ‘coercion’ in serious warning
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Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has met her Japanese counterpart Kishi Nabuo in Tokyo in order to discuss the situation in the disputed region. The officials released a joint statement on Monday vowing to work together on the security of the region against intimidation.
They both agreed on the importance of securing free sea and air routes in the disputed territory.
Ms Reynolds and Mr Nabuo did not mention China, but expressed their “serious concern” about the presence of military in the region.
They also condemned the “dangerous or coercive use” of coast guard vessels and “maritime militia”.
The officials also brought attention to the attempts to stop other nations’ resource exploitation efforts.
The join statement read: “The Ministers reinforced their strong opposition to any destabilising or coercive unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions in the East China Sea.
“They expressed their intention to continue to coordinate closely on the security environment in this region.
“The Ministers reinforced their strong opposition to any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by coercion in the South China Sea, and reaffirmed the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight.
“They reaffirmed their serious concern about recent incidents, including the continued militarisation of disputed features, dangerous or coercive use of coast guard vessels and ‘maritime militia’, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ resource exploitation activities.
“They emphasised the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”
The statement did, however, mention North Korea’s breach of United Nations Security Council Resolutions.
One of the Resolutions listed as violated by North Korea included several launches of range ballistic missiles.
The statement added that the officials “reaffirmed their commitment to efforts to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges, in accordance with all relevant UNSCRs.”
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It added: “They urged North Korea to fully comply with its international obligations.
“The Ministers welcomed and reaffirmed their commitment to deter, disrupt, and ultimately eliminate the evasion of sanctions by North Korea, including illicit ship-to-ship transfers and direct shipments of sanctioned goods.”
The Ministers agreed on a series of actions to achieve their shared security interests.
Improving regular bilateral and multilateral joint actions in the Indo-Pacific was one of the outlined points the officials agreed upon.
Ms Reynolds and Mr Nabuo also agreed upon enhancing “interoperability between the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the Australian Defence Force through increasing the complexity and sophistication of bilateral exercises and operations, including testing of air-to-air refuelling.”
Both sides agreed to continue discussing ways to secure peace in the territory.
The statement published on Australia’s Department of Defence’s website read: “The Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to continue working closely with Indo-Pacific partners.
“They reiterated their desire to work together in cooperation with Pacific Island countries in the fields of capacity building, maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, particularly where responding to priorities of the Boe Declaration on Regional Security.
“The Ministers recognised that Japan and Australia would continue to coordinate closely in defence-related fora, including through their respective involvement in the Japan Pacific
Islands Defense Dialogue (JPIDD) and the South Pacific Defence Ministers’ Meeting (SPDMM) and other relevant regional dialogues.”
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