Japan, U.S., Australia concerned by China's naval activities

The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and Australia expressed concern Friday over China's increasingly assertive naval activities and agreed to cooperate in securing peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a joint statement released after their meeting in Bali, Indonesia, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and new Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop also urged North Korea to respect U.N. resolutions by dismantling its nuclear and missile development programs.

The ministers "opposed any coercive or unilateral actions that could change the status quo in the East China Sea," the statement said, while declining to directly name China.

Japan has faced growing tensions over Chinese protest against Tokyo's control of a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea.

The statement noted "the importance of efforts to reduce tensions and to avoid miscalculations or accidents in the East China Sea, including by improving marine communications."

As China also has territorial disputes in the South China Sea with various Southeast Asian countries, the foreign ministers urged the claimants "to refrain from actions that could increase tensions, to clarify and pursue claims in accordance with international law."

While China has displayed resolve to protect its interests, it and the countries with rival claims have called for a peaceful solution and been talking to create a code of conduct that all of the parties should follow.

On North Korea, the three ministers expressed their "deep concern" at human rights violations in the country, including the past abductions of Japanese citizens, as well as at its continued nuclear and missile development programs despite international pressure to shut them down.

The statement also hailed the recent developments toward restarting international talks on Iran's nuclear programs.

The ministers hoped Iran would "engage substantively...in the new round of talks" involving the United States and some EU nations.

On the civil war in Syria, they demanded the regime of President Bashar al-Assad fully respect the U.N. resolution adopted unanimously last week on the dismantling of the country's chemical weapons.

The ministers met on the sidelines of the two-day ministerial meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which started the same day. They agreed they will meet more often to address new security concerns such as cyberattacks on government offices and the peaceful use of outer space.