The Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on 21 April agreed to strengthen their bilateral partnership covering defence, trade, and climate change. The leaders also agreed to hold talks to share military information-sharing and which would be later formalized into an agreement.
The Kiwi leader who was visiting Japan and her Japanese counterpart expressed concerns about the situation in the South China Sea. China in recent years has militarised the region with artificially constructed islands and has been making aggressive territorial claims over islands.
Ardern is visiting Japan for three-day, which is also her first foreign trip in the past two years. As pandemic border closures are eased Ardern is reaching out to countries and seeking to promote the country’s reopening for business and tourism.
Ardern and Kishida also discussed the Ukraine-Russia crisis.
The Japanese PM said he and the New Zealand Prime Minister denounced the course of action in Europe. They condemned the use of force. Japan and New Zealand opposed any aggressive attempts to use force in the East or South China sea or any other place.
The leaders objected to any unilateral actions that could trigger tensions and make the region unstable. A joint statement by Japan and New Zealand said that they believed in an international rules-based order.
The New Zealand Prime Minister said, “As two democracies, our approaches to the challenges facing our Indo-Pacific region are closely aligned.” “
We are committed to working toward a vision of an open, inclusive, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific underpinned by the rules-based order and free from collusion,” Ardern added.
Tokyo has expressed concern about Chinese naval and coast guard activities in the East China Sea near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands. China claims Senkaku as its own and calls it Diaoyu. Japan is also concerned that tension between Beijing and Taiwan could escalate as China claims the island as its own.
In recent years, Tokyo has expanded military ties beyond its traditional ally, the United States. Currently, it has partnerships or other formal arrangements with countries including Australia, India, Britain, and Europe.
Following Ardern’s visit, Japan and New Zealand will conduct joint drills and seek a military information-sharing agreement.