The Japanese, U.S., Australian and Indian governments are planning to hold a meeting of their foreign affairs chiefs in Tokyo in early October, part of a bid to confront China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
Also being arranged is a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the top diplomats of the three foreign countries, according to Japanese government sources.
It would be the first face-to-face diplomatic occasion for Suga, who took office Wednesday.
The four foreign chiefs are Toshimitsu Motegi, the United States’ Mike Pompeo, Australia’s Marise Payne and India’s Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.
No Cabinet-level or higher foreign official has visited Japan yet since March, amid the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Suga is also scheduled to meet with Pompeo during the visit, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The four-nation framework known as the “Quad” was launched under former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a bid to deal with China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Sharing basic values including democracy and the rule of law, the four countries aim to enhance cooperation in the security and diplomatic fields.
Under the framework, the first meeting of their foreign heads took place in New York in September 2019.
In the expected second meeting, the officials are likely to affirm their countries’ cooperation to realize the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” vision upheld by Japan and the United States.
They are also expected to discuss ways to deal with China’s aggressive attitude in the medical field, including vaccine development.
“Especially in the coronavirus crisis, a meeting of the four countries’ foreign ministers would have great significance,” a Japanese government source said.
Amid the intensifying U.S.-China feud over Hong Kong and technology issues, however, the move by the four countries could irritate China and affect the Japan-China relationship, which is improving recently.
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration is taking a tougher stand against China ahead of the presidential election in November.