National / Politics

Japan and Oman seek to ensure maritime order as China's assertiveness grows in the Asia-Pacific region


The Japanese and Omani foreign ministers agreed Wednesday that the two countries will work together to maintain maritime order amid China’s growing assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region, Japanese officials said.

The agreement was reached as Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his counterpart Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah met in the Omani capital of Muscat, about 500 kilometers southeast of the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes for crude oil.

Japan significantly depends on the region for oil imports.

During the talks, Kono explained Japan’s policy to pursue a “free and open Indo-Pacific” region — encompassing Asia, the Middle East and Africa — which has been advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to realize maritime order based on the rule of law.

Kono said after the talks that the Omani minister sought Japan’s involvement in Oman’s port and harbor development. He said the two were able to share an understanding over the strategic importance of port facilities.

Kono is on a six-day trip to the Middle East, in which he also visited Jerusalem following U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital.

Local media reported Monday that Kono invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a four-way meeting in Tokyo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, in an effort to restart peace efforts.

Netanyahu has reportedly conditioned his participation on approval from the Trump administration, the Jerusalem Post said.

It was not immediately clear whether the Trump administration gave approval for Kono’s move to make the proposal. An Israeli government source said authorities are waiting to hear from the United States on the issue.

Israel has long claimed Jerusalem is its “eternal and undivided capital,” while the Palestinians hope East Jerusalem, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, will be the capital of their future state.

Japan supports a two-state solution to the conflict and takes the position that the final status of Jerusalem should be resolved through negotiations between the parties.