Tokyo [Japan], May 28 (ANI): The leaders of Japan and the European Union called for "peace and stability" across the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, marking the first time the two sides have jointly spoke about Taiwan in its joint statement.
The statement came after Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga held an online summit with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday.
Citing Japanese Foreign Ministry official, Kyodo News reported that it was the first-ever reference to Taiwan in a Japan-EU joint statement, using identical language to the statement issued after Suga's meeting with US President Joe Biden last month.
Suga and the EU leaders voiced serious concerns about the situation in waters surrounding China and said they "strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions."
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Beijing has also been stepping up its claim to the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, sending coast guard ships to nearby waters in what Tokyo sees as an attempt to exert control.
China has carried on with the militarization of artificial islands in the South China Sea, where it has overlapping sovereignty claims with its neighbors, Kyodo News reported.
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
However, the EU is seeking to play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific, adopting a strategy last month for cooperation with partners in the region.
Michel and von der Leyen expressed support for staging the Tokyo Olympics this summer in a "safe and secure manner," despite mounting concerns over the games going ahead during a global pandemic, Kyodo News reported.
The Olympics, set to begin July 23, will be "a symbol of global unity in defeating COVID-19," the joint statement said.
Suga and the EU leaders also agreed to enhance cooperation in tackling climate change, forming a "green alliance" to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and create jobs. (ANI)