• Kyodo

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Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday voiced "grave concerns" over China's unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas on the second day of a meeting of the Group of Seven foreign ministers, the Japanese government said.

As the ministers discussed issues related to China and Russia, Motegi said during the meeting that Japan is also concerned about Beijing's handling of human rights in connection with the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Xinjiang autonomous region as well as the situation in Hong Kong, according to the Foreign Ministry.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the chair of the three-day gathering, told reporters that they will issue a joint statement after the meeting to demonstrate their determination to promote open societies, human rights and democracy, in a veiled counter to China and Russia.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said unity is important to protect an international rules-based order that has maintained peace and prosperity, according to the U.S. State Department. Russia's military buildup near the Ukraine border was raised by Britain during the meeting.

The ministers also discussed the situation in Myanmar, where the violent crackdown on protesters by security forces following the Feb. 1 coup has stoked concerns about human rights issues.

Representatives of India and South Korea were among guests joining the meeting on Tuesday to discuss the promotion of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.

The ministers are expected to discuss matters related to the coronavirus response and climate change on the third and final day of the meeting.

On the sidelines of the G7 gatherings, Motegi also held a series of bilateral meetings on Tuesday.

In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Motegi welcomed Berlin's decision to send a frigate to the Indo-Pacific region this summer in an effort to strengthen security ties, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

The dispatch follows Germany's release of comprehensive Indo-Pacific strategy guidelines last September that signaled the country's shift away from a China-centered diplomatic policy in Asia.

Motegi and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in a separate meeting shared concerns over China's treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang as well as its crackdown on Hong Kong.

They also raised as a potential security threat the issue of a new law in China allowing coast guard vessels to use weapons against foreign ships in waters that Beijing sees as its territory.

Motegi also met with the European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and asked for continued support for smooth supplies of COVID-19 vaccines. Approval by the EU is needed for each shipment.

The G7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union.

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