An accord between China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to defuse tension over territorial disputes in the South China Sea is of considerable importance to Japan, which itself is engaged in spats with China in the East China Sea.

Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto told reporters in Indonesia, where he attended ASEAN-related events, that he welcomes an accord between China and ASEAN on the guidelines to govern behavior in the South China Sea "as a step forward" to resolving the rows based on laws.

Matsumoto also told a session of the annual ministerial meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum that the South China Sea is important to Japan as well, as the safe passage of its commercial ships needs to be ensured by maintaining the stability of the sea area, according to a senior Japanese official.