Japan and Vietnam on Tuesday vowed to push back any unilateral attempts in disputed East and South China Seas.

The reaffirmation of complying with international law on respecting freedom of navigation and overflight came during a bilateral meeting of Japanese and Vietnamese defense ministers in Tokyo.

“The Ministers … shared a strong opposition to – where incompatible with the existing international order – any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by coercion and confirmed the importance of Japan and Vietnam to continue to cooperate in upholding the existing international order based on the rule of law,” a statement by Japanese Defense Ministry said.

The statement came after almost two hours meeting of Nobuo Kishi and his Vietnamese counterpart Phan Van Giang.

They reiterated the importance of countries complying with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Philippines won a case in 2016 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, which invalidated China’s expansive claims over the resource-rich South China Sea.

It is claimed by China and several other regional countries.

China’s assertions are based on its “nine-dash line” – purple dashes on official Chinese maps that denote Beijing’s historical claims over the South China Sea.

Japan’s statement said Tuesday’s meeting discussed views on the current regional security situation including in the disputed waters.

The two sides upgraded their defense ties, calling it “Japan-Vietnam Defense Cooperation at the New Level.”

“Japan and Vietnam will contribute more proactively to the peace and stability of the region and the international community, by making specific efforts utilizing their respective advantages and resources,” the statement said.

Kishi also condemned ballistic missiles launched by North Korea and expressed concern over the situation in Myanmar following the February coup. On the occasion, Japan and Vietnam signed two agreements on cybersecurity cooperation and military medicine.​​​​​​​

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