Japan, New Zealand agree to strengthen cooperation against Russia

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Japan, New Zealand agree to strengthen cooperation against Russia

The leaders of Japan and New Zealand expressed strong opposition Thursday to attempts to change the status quo by force in Ukraine and elsewhere, and agreed to strengthen their partnership to uphold the international order challenged by Russia.

After a face-to-face meeting in Tokyo, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the two nations will start negotiations on an information-sharing agreement to strengthen bilateral security and defense cooperation.

In their first summit since Russia sacked Ukraine in late February, both leaders acknowledged the importance of working together to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific region. At a joint news briefing with Ardern, Kishida said that we strongly criticised Russia's aggression and agreed to respond resolutely.

We will not tolerate any attempts to alter the status quo by force and oppose them in the East and South China Seas or any other regions, he said.

The war in Ukraine has caused ripples in the Indo-Pacific region, where the rise of an assertive China backed by its economic and military power has been a concern.

Japan and New Zealand must cooperate in a deeply uncertain global environment to support the global recovery from COVID 19, to transition to sustainable economies, and to uphold our shared values at a time when the rules-based order we rely on is seriously challenged, Ardern said.

She said at the briefing that she and her colleagues were committed to working toward the vision of an open, inclusive, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific, underpinned by rules-based order and free from coercion.

Japan and New Zealand are both members of two free trade agreements, the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership that took effect after the withdrawal of the United States, and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that includes China.

Ardern's trip to Japan is her second as prime minister and the first since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic. She visited Singapore before Japan.