Tokyo (ANTARA) - Japan is seeking to control the sea to promote maritime sovereignty and a free and open Indo-Pacific policy, a top diplomat said.

"The ASEAN region is in Japan's vital shipping lanes. To control the sea, we need cooperation," Deputy Director of the Second Division of Southeast Asia, Department of Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs at the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Kaneko Kazuya said here on Saturday.

The Indo-Pacific region is currently facing many challenges, starting from piracy, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), to natural disasters, he noted.

Amid these challenges, Japan is seeking to promote peace, stability, and prosperity throughout the region to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

This needs to be pursued by ensuring an international order based on rules, including the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, peaceful settlement of disputes, and promotion of free trade.

The idea of realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific region is based on the concept of controlling the sea by emphasizing the rule of law in the maritime area.

Efforts that need to be made to make this happen include disaster mitigation as well as handling cases of pirate terror and illegal fishing operations.

To achieve order in the maritime area around the Pacific Ocean, Japan sees the need to increase cooperation with ASEAN member countries.

Furthermore, Kaneko said there are three pillars that need to be considered to realize legal sovereignty in the maritime area, with the first being the need to build connectivity around the ASEAN region.

Next, quality facilities and infrastructure for the navy also need to be developed, in addition to efforts to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement capabilities at sea.

Japan's efforts to increase cooperation with ASEAN countries were emphasized by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a meeting with the United States in January this year.

"He said that ASEAN is the most important partner for Japan in realizing security in the Indian Ocean and Pacific Ocean," he said.

"For this reason, Japan needs to establish absolute cooperation with ASEAN countries," he added.

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Reporter: Katriana
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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