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East Asian economies must cooperate on energy issues as quickly as possible if they want to keep regional peace and protect the environment, the Philippine ambassador to Japan said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Foreign Press Center in Tokyo, Domingo Siazon Jr. said no one could say that “accidents” would not happen, particularly as Japanese and Chinese ships scramble to take the lead in East China Sea oil and gas exploration.

“Can we create (a deliberative body) to prevent a situation from going from bad to worse?” Siazon asked.

He said he feared the current political animosity between Japan and its neighbors could escalate into a regional Cold War, despite growing economic interdependence among Japan, China and South Korea.

Energy issues can be the basis for multilateral cooperation, the ambassador said, adding that economies in the region need to join together on a wide range of issues, including developing oil and gas resources, securing energy reserves, promoting energy conservation efforts and protecting sea lanes from piracy.

Japan and China, the two regional leaders and the two largest oil consumers, particularly need to cooperate in nuclear-power plant development and lowering China’s carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

“A regional community . . . will put to rest the ghosts of the past” between Japan and its neighbors North Korea, South Korea and China, he reckoned.

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