Japanese, Vietnamese leaders reject use of force in Ukraine

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida discussed the war in Ukraine with Vietnamese leaders on Sunday and said they agreed on the respect for international law and rejection of the use of force.

Japan has condemned Russia's invasion and joined Western nations in imposing sanctions against Moscow. Vietnam, like most other Southeast Asian nations, has avoided directly criticizing Russia and has called for restraint, the respect of the U.N. charter and dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Vietnam abstained from a vote at the U.N. General Assembly in March that deplored Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Vietnam is one of Moscow's historic allies and Vietnam's military has been equipped mostly with Russian weapons. It has also strong ties with Ukraine, where about 10,000 Vietnamese live, work and study. In recent years, Vietnam has forged closer ties with the United States in opposing China's vast territorial claims in the South China Sea.

“We cannot accept the actions to change status quo by force in any region of the world,” Kishida said after talks with his Vietnamese counterpart, Pham Minh Chinh.

Kishida also criticized China's actions in the South China Sea, where Beijing has constructed artificial islands and turned them into military outposts to reinforce its territorial claims that have been rejected by its smaller neighbors.