Japan, Malaysia affirm coordination over Ukraine, Indo-Pacific

© Kyodo News

The leaders of Japan and Malaysia agreed Wednesday to continue close coordination in responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine that they both oppose, and to aim for a "free and open" Indo-Pacific region at a time of China's rise.

In a phone call, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told Malaysian counterpart Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the Russian aggression has shaken the international order to its core, adding that safeguarding and strengthening one based on the rule of law has taken on greater importance, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said.

Ismail Sabri was quoted as saying Malaysia is "seriously concerned" about the escalating conflict in Ukraine and it stands ready to accelerate "all possible efforts" to help resolve the crisis peacefully.

Russia's onslaught in Ukraine since late February has sent ripples to the Indo-Pacific, raising the alarm among Japanese policymakers and conservative lawmakers about its implications for the region that has seen China's growing economic and military clout.

The roughly 20-minute phone conversation came after Kishida told his U.S. and European counterparts in video call Tuesday that the impact of the Russian invasion had reached Asia and Japan has been exploring closer coordination with other Asia nations.

The two leaders also discussed regional issues, including the situation in the East and South China seas where an assertive China remains a concern.

They agreed to deepen bilateral ties on the occasion of the 40th anniversary this year since Malaysia adopted its "Look East" policy aimed at emulating Japan's work ethic and learning from its economic growth, the ministry said.