TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and his Canadian counterpart Harjit Sajjan agreed Wednesday to work closely to push North Korea to abandon completely its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.
In telephone talks, Kishi and Sajjan also affirmed they would cooperate in messaging to the international community their strong opposition to "any attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by coercion or activities that escalate tension," in a veiled reference to China's assertiveness in the East and South China seas.
During the 40-minute talks, Kishi praised Canada's dispatches of surveillance planes as part of multilateral efforts to crack down on ship-to-ship smuggling involving North Korean vessels.
North Korea has allegedly engaged in illegal offshore transfers of goods in an apparent attempt to evade U.N. Security Council sanctions aimed at preventing Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Kishi and Sajjan vowed to "vigorously promote" bilateral defense cooperation and reinforce the free and open Indo Pacific, according to the Japanese ministry.
In this respect, they shared the importance of all nations fully complying with international law and norms, including the freedom of navigation and overflight.