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Japan and Lithuania to discuss over security issues to combat regional threats

Japan and Lithuania said on Wednesday they will create a bilateral framework to discuss security issues amid Russia’s protracted war in Ukraine as well as China’s growing military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and his Lithuanian counterpart Ingrida Simonyte issued a joint statement after their meeting in Tokyo, promising to strengthen ties between the two nations by sharing knowledge on international security issues under a new dialogue framework, though without specifying any time frame.

A statement condemning Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine said the two leaders shared “a growing recognition of the inseparability of Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific security”.

Kishida told reporters at a joint news conference with Simonyt that Russian nuclear blackmail is “a threat to the peace and stability of the international community and is therefore absolutely unacceptable,” adding that the actual use of nuclear weapons must not occur.

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They also aired their wariness over “expansion of military power without transparency and unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force” in the Indo-Pacific, in an apparent reference to Beijing’s assertive territorial claims and military build-up in the East and South China Seas. .

Simonyte told a press conference that recent geopolitical challenges such as China’s economic pressure, Russia’s war and North Korea’s missile launches “point to the need for like-minded nations to work more closely together.”

Lithuania, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, shares borders with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and Moscow’s close ally Belarus.

Also on Wednesday, the defense ministers of Japan and Finland pledged unity against Russia over its war in Ukraine.

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Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and his Finnish counterpart Antti Kaikkonen agreed during a meeting in Tokyo to maintain close communication between their countries’ political leaders and officers, the defense ministry said.

“Japan and Finland are partners sharing core values,” Hamada said at the start of the talks, adding that the two nations border Russia on its eastern and western sides and “have a lot in common in terms of recognizing situations and strategic interests.” ” despite the geographical distance between them.

Kaikkonen told Hamad that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, now in its ninth month, has shaken global security affairs.

The two ministers also pledged to boost their defense cooperation and exchanges to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific, a vision championed by Japan and the United States in veiled opposition to China’s growing military influence in the region.

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Amid growing security concerns following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland applied to join NATO in May along with Sweden. The two Scandinavian countries were given a clear path to membership in June after Turkey withdrew its opposition.

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