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PM Modi & PM Suga discuss row over S China Sea; vow to strengthen India-Japan Partnership

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister of Japan Suga Yoshihide on Tuesday where the two leaders reaffirmed the importance of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific and raised concerns over China’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo. Matters pertaining to the situation in Hong Kong and Xinjiang and the current political crisis in Myanmar were also brought up by the Prime Ministers during the conversation. 

According to an official press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan, “Prime Minister Suga expressed serious concerns regarding unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea, China’s Coast Guard Law and the situation in Hong Kong and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Prime Minister Suga also asked for understanding and cooperation toward the early resolution of the abductions issue by North Korea. Furthermore, the two leaders confirmed that they have grave concerns over the situation in Myanmar and they would closely work together in this vein.”

Previously, reports had stated that Japan was mulling military action in response to increased Chinese activity near the Tokyo-administered Senkaku islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands. Both China and Japan claim Senkaku islands as their own territory, with the Chinese military asserting its control by repeatedly entering the contested waters. 

The phone-call which lasted for approximately 40 minutes also saw PM Modi and PM Suga stressing on advancing Japan-India bilateral cooperation and Japan-Australia-India-U.S. quadrilateral cooperation. The need to materialize the “Japan-India Special Strategic and Global Partnership” through cooperation in such areas as security and defense, economic relationship including digital fields, and people-to-people exchanges was also discussed as per the Ministry. 

Meanwhile, they welcomed the progress on the high-speed rail project and the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation on specified skilled workers.

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