Japan and Brunei agreed Thursday on the need to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea, where the Southeast Asian country, China and others have conflicting territorial claims, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Lim Jock Seng, Brunei’s second minister of foreign affairs and trade, also confirmed that the two countries will strengthen economic ties as Tokyo seeks a stable supply of liquefied natural gas from the resource-rich country.
“I am grateful for your stable supply of LNG from Brunei over the years. I hope to further develop amicable bilateral ties, including in the economic field,” Kishida said at the outset of the meeting, which was open to the media.
Lim expressed hope for Japan’s support in changing its oil-dependent economy.
“We are looking at how to restructure our economy,” the Brunei minister said. “So the question of diversification is very important. We want to work with you.”
Kishida said Japan was ready to cooperate in developing Brunei’s information and communications sector, the ministry said.
The ministers also discussed the situation in the South China Sea, where China has engaged in massive, fast-paced land reclamation, much to the consternation of other claimants, and agreed to work closely on the issue, the ministry said.
Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan have overlapping territorial claims with Beijing in the South China Sea.
Noting that Brunei is ASEAN’s coordinating country for Japan for three years from last August, Kishida said he hoped closer ties with Brunei will elevate Tokyo’s relationship with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.