JAKARTA (Kyodo) — Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa on Friday agreed on the need to create a multilateral framework to help resolve maritime conflicts in the South China Sea.
“It is a good thing that we make (new) rules regarding maritime affairs,” Gemba told reporters after meeting with Natalegawa in the Indonesian capital, at a time when many Asian countries are concerned about China’s assertiveness in surrounding seas.
In a joint news conference Natalegawa said, “We are now identifying what sort of (maritime) cooperation” can be encouraged between the Association of Southeast Asia Nations and other Asian countries.
Gemba and Natalegawa also agreed to facilitate other ministerial talks between Japan and Indonesia, which chairs this year’s meetings of the 10-member ASEAN, according to officials.
Ahead of the talks, Gemba also met with ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan and assured him of Japan’s commitment to the success of the East Asia Summit in Bali in November. That gathering will bring together leaders of the ASEAN and of major countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, China, India, Japan and South Korea.
Indonesia was the last stop of a three-nation tour that started Tuesday and also took Gemba to Singapore and Malaysia.
Gemba, who became Japan’s foreign minister early last month, is scheduled to return to Tokyo Saturday morning.