National / Politics

Abe, Turnbull condemn Paris attacks, take up South China Sea


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull condemned the attacks in Paris and shared their concerns over China’s unilateral actions in the South China Sea during talks in the Turkish resort of Antalya, an aide to Abe said.

Abe met with Turnbull on Saturday ahead of the summit of the Group of 20 major economies, the first time the leaders have met since the latter assumed Australia’s top leadership spot in September.

Abe described the nearly simultaneous attacks in Paris, which killed more than 120 people and injured over 350, as “a challenge to what we share and try to protect” during the talks, according to Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko.

Turnbull told Abe the attacks were not only targeted at France but at all believers in freedom, Seko said.

Chinese actions in the East China Sea and the South China Sea are “a big source of regional concern,” Abe told Turnbull, referring to the operation of ships within Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands and the land reclamation work being carried out in the disputed Spratly Islands.

Beijing later began claiming the Senkakus as Diaoyu, and Taiwan claims them as Tiaoyutai.

Abe also supported the recent passage of a U.S. naval ship within a zone Beijing claims near a newly created artificial island, citing the need to protect freedom of navigation, according to Seko.

Turnbull shared Abe’s concerns over the China-related maritime issues, Seko said.

On the possible joint development of Australia’s new submarine, Abe told Turnbull of Tokyo’s continued desire to meet Canberra’s needs and requests, but the premier did not make any significant new proposals.

Both public and private-sector entities in Japan involved in submarine design and construction are working “in a serious manner” so the envisioned vessel can be built in Australia with the participation of as many local contractors as possible, Abe was quoted as telling Turnbull.

Turnbull thanked Japan for showing interest and a desire to help develop a new submarine for Australia and pledged the final decision on who will build the vessels will be decided in a fair manner, according to Seko.

Abe and Turnbull confirmed their commitment to an early implementation of the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal that Japan and Australia agreed to with the United States and nine other countries.

The 12 countries reached a broad agreement on the TPP, which would cover some 40 percent of the world economy, in ministerial talks last month following years of negotiation.