Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide says he has agreed with the leaders of Vietnam and Indonesia to work together to build a peaceful and prosperous future in the Indo-Pacific region.
Suga spoke to reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday, at the end of his first overseas visit since taking office last month.
He said Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, can help each other and strengthen mutual bonds, because they share the goal of putting into force basic principles such as the rule of law, openness and transparency in the Indo-Pacific region.
The prime minister said Japan supports the "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific," a statement presented by the group last year.
He said the statement and Japan's initiative of a free and open Indo-Pacific share many essential aspects.
Apparently referring to China's increasing presence in the South China Sea, Suga said regional peace and prosperity will be achieved in the region only after freedom, openness and the rule of law take root in the Indo-Pacific region.
The prime minister said moves contrary to such ideas have taken place in the South China Sea, and that he is concerned about this and is closely monitoring the situation.
Suga said Japan opposes whatever actions that will raise tensions in the South China Sea.
He said he'd like to stress that all the parties involved in regional issues need to work toward peaceful settlements based on international law, instead of turning to force or coercion.