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Japan aims to hold '2-plus-2' talks with Philippines, India in April

Meeting with foreign and defense ministers from Manila would be first for Tokyo

A Philippine Navy band welcomes the arrival of a Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ship for a two-day goodwill visit in 2018.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan is laying the groundwork for its first joint meeting of top diplomats and defense officials with the Philippines here next month, as well as its latest round of these "two-plus-two" talks with India, Nikkei has learned.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin and National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana would visit in early April for the meeting with Japanese counterparts Yoshimasa Hayashi and Nobuo Kishi.

The growing Chinese maritime presence is expected be on the agenda for the meetings with both countries. The Philippines has a long-running territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea.

In mid-April, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh are scheduled to travel to Japan. Japan and India held their first two-plus-two talks in November 2019.

Their visit comes after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida traveled to India this month, where he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed that they would not tolerate any unilateral change of the status quo by force in the Indo-Pacific region.

India belongs to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue with the U.S., Japan and Australia, a partnership with a goal of "a free and open Indo-Pacific."

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has put in India in an awkward spot. Valuing its close ties with Moscow, New Delhi has treaded carefully on the subject, abstaining from a United Nations General Assembly resolution that demanded Russia end the war.

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