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Japan, Mekong leaders call for free and open Indo-Pacific region

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, third from left in back row, and leaders o the Mekong countries attend at photo session with members of Under-17 national soccer teams at the State Guest House in Minato Ward, Tokyo, on Tuesday.

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe leaders of Japan and five Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River adopted a joint statement at their summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, calling for realization of the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” which has been advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The Mekong-Japan Summit, held at the State Guest House in Tokyo’s Motoakasaka district, was attended by Abe and the leaders from the Mekong countries: Thailand’s interim Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

At the beginning of the meeting, Abe vowed to continue to extend Japan’s economic assistance to the countries. “The Mekong region is a corridor that connects East Asia and South Asia as well as a land bridge linking the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean,” he said.

In apparent recognition of China’s growing moves such as land reclamation and construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea, the “Tokyo Strategy 2018” joint statement took note of “concerns over circumstances on the South China Sea, which include land reclamation and activities that raise tensions and could undermine peace and stability in the region.”

The leaders also called for North Korea to take concrete action toward its denuclearization and confirmed the importance of working to resolve the abduction issue involving Japanese nationals. Speech

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