|Combined photo shows (from L) Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (UPI/Kyodo), and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. (File photo by=Kyodo)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] Government sources said Wednesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to visit India and the Philippines during the Golden Week holidays from late April while Japan looks to strengthen ties in Asia to counter China's growing clout, Kyodo reported.
Japan seeks to reaffirm cooperation with the countries over its vision of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" region through the trips, which are subject to changes depending on the coronavirus situation. The framework is known as the Quad including Japan, the U.SAustralia and India increasingly become the focus of efforts to counter China's growing economic and military influence. The countries held the Malabar joint naval exercises last November in a show of force while agreeing in a virtual summit to "meet challenges to the rules-based maritime order" in the South and East China seas, where China has made territorial claims that are fiercely contested by its neighbors.
Japan and India also strengthened bilateral security ties in recent years, signing a military pact last September allowing them to exchange supplies and logistical support. The sources say Suga will meet with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and discuss ways to deepen security and economic cooperation while marking the 65th year since the normalization of their diplomatic relations.