• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry agreed Thursday to cooperate on maritime issues amid growing tensions in the South China Sea, a Foreign Ministry official said.

Although they did not single out China, Kishida and Kerry discussed working together to tackle maritime concerns, with Chinese President Xi Jinping scheduled to visit the United States in September, the official said.

They also agreed to address recent allegations by the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website that the United States has spied on the central government and Japanese companies.

Kishida echoed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s request on Wednesday to Vice President Joe Biden that the U.S. provide a detailed explanation.

Echoing Biden’s response, Kerry referred to a presidential directive in 2014 on the collection of intelligence and said that the United States will not take actions that could damage bilateral trust.

Kishida did not go into detail with Kerry about what Abe will say in his much-anticipated statement to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, according to the Foreign Ministry official.

Kishida and Kerry agreed to continue cooperation in dealing with the crisis in Ukraine, North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the Japanese nationals who were abducted by Pyongyang, and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the official said.

Kishida also briefed Kerry on what is happening with the national security bills that are being deliberated in the Upper House.

The two met on the sidelines of a series of regional meetings in Kuala Lumpur involving the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and its dialogue partners, including Japan and the United States.

Tokyo and Washington are concerned about Beijing’s unilateral attempts to change the status quo through large-scale reclamation work in the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Some ASEAN members — the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia — are embroiled in territorial rows with China in the South China Sea. Beijing claims sovereignty over most of the waters.

China does not want Washington to interfere in the territorial disputes and has taken a stance of aiming to settle such rows bilaterally with claimants.

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