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Japan, Mekong leaders to adopt new cooperation strategy in Oct.

Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono (3rd from L) join hands for group photos with the foreign ministers of five members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations situated along the Mekong River -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam -- in Manila on Aug. 6, 2017, ahead of their talks. (Kyodo)

YANGON (Kyodo) -- The leaders of Japan and five Southeast Asian countries along the Mekong River, when they meet in Tokyo next month, plan to adopt a new strategy that is more relevant in the current regional and global situation.

The new plan, called "Tokyo Strategy 2018 for Mekong-Japan Cooperation," will establish three new main pillars of cooperation, diplomatic sources said.

The three pillars, namely, connectivity, people, and the environment, are to be established with the aim of contributing peace, stability and prosperity to the region and beyond, the sources said.

It is to be adopted by the leaders of Japan, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam at the 10th Mekong-Japan Summit scheduled to be held Oct. 9 in Tokyo.

In order to have vibrant and effective connectivity, the five countries and Japan will promote "quality infrastructure" in further enhancing "hard connectivity," "soft connectivity," and "industry connectivity" in the Mekong region and beyond.

Measures are to be taken under the pillar of people include transforming the Mekong countries into diverse and inclusive societies with greater participation of women.

The countries are to encourage tourism investment to promote the region as a "Japanese-quality" standard destination, as well as to collaborate in the fields of education and the rule of law.

Japan and the Mekong countries will also work together to tackle climate change in the region and their common challenge of water resource management and disaster risk reduction.

The leaders, holding the view that the Mekong region links the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, will not only welcome Japan's efforts under the "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy," but also reaffirm the importance of maintaining and promoting freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea, the sources said.

They will also highlight the need for the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, and the importance of the conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea on a mutually agreed timeline.

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