In the wake of rising cases of the novel coronavirus in Japan, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has called off a planned visit to India and the Philippines, news agency ANI on Wednesday said quoting government sources. Prime Minister Suga was scheduled to visit India later this month to discuss regional security to bolster a free and open Indo-Pacific region amid China's growing aggression in the South and East China seas.
Japan has been trying to enhance security cooperation with such regional countries amid China's attempts to unilaterally change the status quo in the South and East China seas.
Recently, more than 200 Chinese vessels have massed the Whitsun Reef in the South China Sea claimed by both China and the Philippines.
The Philippine foreign ministry on Monday said China's claims that the boats were sheltering from bad weather were "blatant falsehoods" and "clearly [a] false narrative of China's expansive and illegitimate claims in the West Philippine Sea".
Last month, the foreign and defence ministers of Japan and Indonesia held a meeting in the 2+2 format and expressed commitment to working toward a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The Asia-Pacific region features several territorial disputes in the South China and East China seas which involve Brunei, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Beijing claims most of the region.