India, US, Australia, Japan call for return of democracy in Myanmar
Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Thursday he had agreed with his US, Indian and Australian counterparts that democracy must be restored quickly in Myanmar.
Myanmar's military has arrested civilian leaders, including Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and announced a year-long state of emergency, alleging that November's election was beset by fraud. The electoral commission dismissed the army's complaints.
Motegi made his comment after a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne -- countries in the so-called "Quad" framework.
In October, Japan hosted an in-person meeting of foreign ministers in the Quad grouping, seen as part of efforts to balance China's growing military and economic might.
The virtual meeting on Thursday was the first one since the start of the new US administration of President Joe Biden.
"I stressed (in the meeting) that, with challenges to existing international order continuing in various fields, the role we, the countries that share basic values and are deeply committed to fortifying free and open international order based on the rule of law, play is only getting bigger," Motegi said.
"And the other ministers agreed."
The four ministers also agreed to strongly oppose unilateral attempts to change the status quo with force, Motegi said.
China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, and has established military outposts on artificial islands. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.
In the East China Sea, China claims a group of uninhabited islets that are administered by Japan, called the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. That dispute has plagued bilateral relations for years.