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Announcing Japan’s new development initiative in Tokyo during a summit that commemorates the 40th anniversary of ASEAN-Japan ties, Abe also pledged to provide assistance in the form of concessional loans to member nations that have lagged behind.
The summit in Tokyo, which groups Japan with Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, also examined ways for an increase in regional currency swaps that would combat financial market volatility.
On Saturday, Japan renewed its existing swap arrangement with Singapore and discussed similar deals with Indonesia and the Philippines.
A joint ASEAN-Japan statement released late on Saturday also mentioned freedom of the air and sea, and stressed that disputes be resolved peacefully.
“We underscored the importance of maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the region and promoting maritime security and safety, freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce, exercise of self-restraint and resolution of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law,” the statement said.
The statement alludes to, but does not directly mention, China’s establishment of an East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in November.
China and Japan are locked in a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islands known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, which fall within the ADIZ.
“Regarding maritime problems, in particular those in the South China Sea, we agreed that every nation concerned should not resort to one-sided efforts to change the status quo with force, but rather respect the relevant international law,” Abe said in reference to other territorial disputes between some ASEAN nations and China.
In the meantime, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said ASEAN welcomed Japan’s efforts in boosting regional security, but emphasised that Tokyo must be transparent when it came to its military profile in the region.