Justice ministers from Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged Thursday to cooperate on promoting the rule of law amid China's increasing maritime assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.

In a joint statement issued after their meeting in Tokyo, Justice Minister Ken Saito and his ASEAN counterparts reaffirmed their commitment to the "peaceful resolution of disputes" without "resorting to the threat or use of force."

Japan and the 10-member ASEAN said in the statement that they will uphold and promote "shared values and fundamental principles such as the rule of law and respect for human rights, as well as national sovereignty and territorial integrity."