Hanoi (VNA) – Foreign ministers of ASEAN countries and Japan agreed on the importance of freedom of navigation in the East Sea (internationally known as South China Sea) during their virtual meeting on August 3.

Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi Toshimitsu stressed the country's opposition to any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific by force, according to the Foreign Ministry of Japan.

He said as the region faces the challenge posed by the coronavirus pandemic, it is important to maintain and strengthen the principles of the rule of law and transparency in the Indo-Pacific region.

Motegi also reiterated Japan's support for ASEAN's bid to implement its five-point consensus on how to tackle the political crisis in Myanmar.

The minister invited ASEAN leaders to Japan for a summit in 2023 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of friendship and cooperative relations between the country and the regional bloc.

The ministers also discussed cooperation in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Japan pledging to provide more vaccine doses and support for the health care system in ASEAN countries. The Northeast Asian nation has so far offered 9.6 million vaccine doses to the regional grouping, the Japanese ministry said.

Japan and ASEAN ministers also agreed on the importance of putting an end to the nuclear and missile development programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea./.