All national papers wrote that Prime Minister Kishida took part in a virtual summit with ASEAN leaders on Wednesday and called for greater coordination toward a free and open Indo-Pacific region. He reportedly pledged $650 million in grant-in-aid to help promote the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), a guide for ASEAN’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions. The money will reportedly be used for infrastructure development and removing microplastics from the sea. The premier also committed an additional $1.8 billion in ODA that will be used by ASEAN to provide COVID-19 vaccines and address climate change. With China in mind Kishida underscored Japan’s resolve to oppose “unilateral moves to alter the status quo” in the South and East China Seas. He expressed support for the group’s efforts to achieve peace between the military regime and democratic forces in Myanmar (Burma). The prime minister later took part in a separate summit that ASEAN sponsored with Japan, China, and South Korea.
According to the papers, Brunei, the chair of ASEAN this year, also hosted a virtual conference between ASEAN and the U.S., Japan, and six other regional partners later in the day, at which Kishida and several other participants voiced concern about the human rights situations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong. The Japanese leader also emphasized the importance of ensuring stability across the Taiwan Strait. The papers cited a White House readout as quoting President Biden as saying in the session that the administration is committed to continuing cooperation with allies and friends to support democracy, civil liberties, the rule of law, and freedom of navigation in the region. The President also reportedly highlighted U.S. partnership with ASEAN to promote free trade and infrastructure investment and build resilient supply chains.