UK, Japan express serious concern over East, South China seas situation

Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (left) and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi attend a video conference with their British counterparts, in Tokyo, on Feb 3, 2021.
Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (left) and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi attend a video conference with their British counterparts, in Tokyo, on Feb 3, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Four ministers from Japan and Britain voiced serious concern on Wednesday (Feb 3) about the situation in the East and South China seas and opposed any unilateral attempts to change the status quo, in an apparent reference to China's maritime expansion.

The joint statement was issued after an online meeting of Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi of Japan, and their respective British counterparts Dominic Raab and Ben Wallace.

"The four ministers reaffirmed the importance of upholding freedom of navigation and overflight above the South China Sea and urged all parties to exercise self-restraint and refrain from activities likely to raise tensions," the statement said.

China claims almost all of the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the South China Sea.

In the East China Sea, China claims a group of uninhabited Japanese-administered islets, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The dispute has plagued bilateral relations for years.

The joint statement was issued after an online meeting of the four ministers.