Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and European Union leaders called for "peace and stability" across the Taiwan Strait on Thursday as mainland China continues to step up pressure on the self-governed island.

In a joint statement following their virtual conference, European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined Suga in encouraging the "peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues" while vowing to boost cooperation for a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

According to a Foreign Ministry official, the remarks were the first-ever reference to Taiwan in a Japan-EU joint statement, using identical language to the statement issued after Suga's meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden last month.