BANGKOK—President Du-terte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the South China Sea issue, particularly the need for a Code of Conduct, as the way to go to address tensions in the region.
Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said this is one of the key regional and international concerns raised during the bilateral meeting of Duterte and Abe on the sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit on Monday.
“Both leaders likewise touched on subjects of regional and international concern, such as the issue surrounding the South China Sea and the situation in the Korean Peninsula. On the South China Sea issue, both leaders discussed the drafting of the Code of Conduct to address tensions in the affected region…,” Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday.
In a separate media briefing on Monday, Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Masato Ohtaka said that Japan has been “consistently expressing its concern” about what it has been witnessing in the region, as it expressed support for 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.
“We particularly support the resolution of the issues under a legal framework as well. I think ICJ [International Court of Justice] and the judicial solution is one thing that we strongly support and this is why we also support the arbitral ruling that came a few years ago on this as well,” Ohtaka said.
When asked, however, whether they are planning to increase Japan’s presence in the area, he said Tokyo has no plans to do so.
While Ohtaka said they feel “strongly” about the issue, he said the countries involved are even “more concerned” about it.
“I think Japan is even in the position to help all the countries be reminded that rule of law is the way to go and peaceful resolution is the way to govern for everybody to resolve this issue,” he said.
Aside from the South China Sea issue, the two leaders also discussed the situation in the Korean Peninsula, particularly the latest ballistic missile launch as well as the long-standing issue of abduction of Japanese nationals.