This file photo of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, taken in Tokyo in May 2016. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau on Wednesday reaffirmed their cooperation in pursuing a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”

In their first talks since Suga took office earlier in the month, the Japanese leader told Trudeau by phone he hopes to work with him to maintain peace and stability in the region and within the international community, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

The Canadian prime minister said he looks forward to working with Suga to strengthen bilateral relations and promote the rule of law, according to the ministry.

Under Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, Japan pushed a free and open Indo-Pacific as a counter to China’s growing maritime assertiveness.

The Japanese and Canadian leaders exchanged views on the situation in the East China and South China seas, where Beijing has various territorial disputes with neighboring countries including Japan.

Suga asked for continued support for Tokyo’s efforts to secure the return of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s, and Trudeau promised it, the ministry said.

The two also affirmed their close cooperation in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic during the roughly 15-minute conversation.

Since being elected as leader by parliament on Sept. 16, Suga has held a series of phone calls with world leaders including U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese President and Russian President .


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