Japan, Philippines committed to assuring freedom of flight over intl skies: Aquino

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan and the Philippines reaffirmed their commitment to assuring the freedom of flight in international airspace, Philippines President Benigno Aquino said on Friday, as concerns mount over China's rise as a military power.

"We reiterated our commitment to uphold the rule of law, promote the peaceful settlement of disputes, and to assure freedom of flight in international airspace," Aquino told reporters in Tokyo after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Aquino stopped short of mentioning China, which has drawn wide criticism after announcing a new air defence zone last month straddling islands in the East China Sea that are also claimed by Japan.

China has said it might set up a similar zone in the South China Sea, where its claims to wide swathes of the waterway have provoked an extended territorial row with Manila.

Aquino and Abe met ahead of a summit in Tokyo between Japan and the 10 members of Asean, several of which are also involved in territorial spats with China.