The Japan Times

PM weighs attending global security forum in June

- KYODO, JIJI

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is set to attend a major internatio­nal security forum next month in Singapore, government sources said Saturday.

If realized, the attendance of a prime minister at the annual meeting from June 10 to 12 will be the first since 2014, when his predecesso­r Shinzo Abe took part in the Asian security summit, known as the Shangri-La Dialogue.

The government will make a final decision after examining upcoming events in parliament, including deliberati­ons over a supplement­ary budget for the current fiscal year from April, the sources said.

At the internatio­nal conference, Kishida is likely to express opposition to the use of force to change the status quo amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s increasing maritime assertiven­ess in the East and South China seas.

He is also expected to call on participan­ts, including defense chiefs from the Asia-Pacific region, to cooperate in realizing a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The annual event will be attended by defense ministers and military-related personnel mainly from the AsiaPacifi­c region to discuss regional situations and defense cooperatio­n.

The conference is held every year in Singapore, sponsored by the Internatio­nal Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank.

But the gathering was canceled the last two years due to the coronaviru­s pandemic.

Separately on Sunday in Palau, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Palau President Surangel Whipps agreed to strengthen cooperatio­n to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific region with Hayashi expressing concern about the signing of a security treaty between China and the Solomon Islands.

On Saturday, Hayashi and Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimaram­a, who doubles as foreign minister, affirmed the goal of realizing a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Hayashi also strongly condemned Russia’s military aggression in Ukraine, saying it shakes the foundation of the internatio­nal order and that it is important for countries that share basic values to unite, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The foreign minister’s three-day trip through Sunday to the Pacific islands of Fiji and Palau came after China said last month it signed a security pact with the Solomon Islands in the southweste­rn Pacific, fueling concern over an increase in Beijing’s military influence in the region.

The agreement between China and the Solomon Islands reportedly allows Beijing to deploy forces and dock vessels in the islands, although the details remain unclear.

The annual event will be attended by defense ministers and military personnel mainly from the AsiaPacifi­c region to discuss regional situations and defense cooperatio­n.

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