Japanese defense minister: Japan to play leading role in Indo-Pacific region

Japan's defense minister has told an Asian security conference that his country is "determined to lead efforts to uphold and reinforce a free and open international order based on the rule of law" in the Indo-Pacific region.

Kihara Minoru delivered a speech at the Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, in Singapore on Saturday.

He said that the international community is witnessing "unilateral changes to the status quo by force or coercion and such attempts in the East and South China Seas."

Kihara was apparently referring to China's increasing maritime activities in those areas.

He added that, "Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is also important."
Kihara said maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region is in the common interest of the international community.

He said Japan will work with "a network of countries that share this goal."

Kihara spoke about the decision to obtain so-called counterstrike capabilities, and explained that "Japan's reinforcement of defense capabilities and enhanced collaboration with its ally and like-minded countries and partners are not meant to exacerbate tensions in the region."

He added, "Japan seeks to deter unilateral changes to the status quo by force in order to create a desirable security environment."