Duterte, Abe: COC crucial in South China Sea

BANGKOK—President Du-terte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed the South China Sea issue, particularly the need for a Code of Conduct, as the way to go to address tensions in the region.

Presidential Spokesman and Chief Presidential Legal
Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said this is one of the key regional and international
concerns raised during the bilateral meeting of Duterte and Abe on the
sidelines of the 35th Asean Summit on Monday.

“Both leaders likewise touched on subjects of regional and
international concern, such as the issue surrounding the South China Sea and
the situation in the Korean Peninsula. On the South China Sea issue, both
leaders discussed the drafting of the Code of Conduct to address tensions in
the affected region…,” Panelo said in a statement on Tuesday.

In a separate media briefing on Monday,
Japanese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Masato Ohtaka said that Japan has been
“consistently expressing its concern” about what it has been witnessing in the
region, as it expressed support for 2016 arbitral ruling that invalidated
China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

“We particularly support the resolution of the
issues under a legal framework as well. I think ICJ [International Court of
Justice] and the judicial solution is one thing that we strongly support and
this is why we also support the arbitral ruling that came a few years ago on
this as well,” Ohtaka said.

When asked, however, whether they are planning to
increase Japan’s presence in the area, he said Tokyo has no plans to do so.

While Ohtaka said they feel “strongly” about the
issue, he said the countries involved are even “more concerned” about it.

“I think
Japan is even in the position to help all the countries be reminded that rule
of law is the way to go and peaceful resolution is the way to govern for
everybody to resolve this issue,” he said.

Aside from
the South China Sea issue, the two leaders also discussed the situation in the
Korean Peninsula, particularly the latest ballistic missile launch as well as
the long-standing issue of abduction of Japanese nationals.

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