Japan PM critical of Russia, China during ASEAN conference

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Nov. 12 (UPI) — Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on Saturday denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine while also raising concerns over political stability in parts of Asia.

Kishida’s comments came during the 10th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Kishida was joined by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the meeting.

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Kishida was critical of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine as well as threats by the Kremlin to use nuclear weapons in the conflict.

The prime minister said the international community needs to send a clear message to Moscow, adding that any change to the status quo using force is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated. Those remarks referred to both Asia and the larger international community as a whole.

Kishida, who has served as prime minister since last year, was slightly more measured in his criticism of China, which is an ASEAN member.

The 65-year-old said Japan is concerned over China’s growing bullish political assertiveness in that region, referring specifically to the East and South China seas.

In recent months, Beijing has made no secret of its desire to “reunify” with Taiwan. In October, President Xi Jinping pledged to build a “modern socialist” China by 2049 and discussed “reunification” with Taiwan.

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That came a month after U.S. President Joe Biden again reiterated the position of the United States that American forces would defend Taiwan militarily against an attempted invasion by China.

Kishida said peace and stability are of the utmost importance in the Taiwan Strait.

His comments came the same day Biden and ASEAN leaders announced the start of a new strategic partnership aimed at countering China’s growing influence in the region.