Japan, Palau leaders agree to cooperate for free and open Indo-Pacific

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr. have agreed to closely cooperate to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

They released a joint statement after meeting for about an hour in Tokyo on Friday. Whipps is visiting Japan for the first time since taking office in January last year.

The statement comes as China is trying to strengthen its influence over Pacific Island nations. In it, Kishida and Whipps reaffirm their commitment to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The two leaders remain seriously concerned about China's moves in the East and South China seas and reiterated their strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force.

The statement also says the leaders emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

The two agreed Russia's aggression against Ukraine is a serious threat to the rule-based international order and unequivocally condemned it.

Kishida and Whipps renewed their determination to work together to strengthen the United Nations as a whole, including reform of the Security Council.

They also confirmed they will work together to deal with North Korea's nuclear and missile development as well as the country's abductions issue.