Japan and Vietnam pledged Thursday to work together in dealing with security threats in the Indo-Pacific, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said, in a veiled reference to China’s growing maritime assertiveness in the region. During a meeting in Tokyo, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and Vietnamese Standing Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh also confirmed that the principle of respecting independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity must be protected, according to the ministry, although Hanoi has stood aloof from sanctions and other international actions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The talks came as Japan and the United States adopt a more confrontational stance toward China, represented by a summit of the Quad group also involving Australia and India held in Tokyo on Tuesday. At the bilateral talks, Hayashi aired his strong opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China seas, where Tokyo and Hanoi have been respectively engaged in territorial disputes with Beijing, according to the ministry. Hayashi told Minh he hopes the two nations will cooperate toward the realisation of a free and open Indo-Pacific, a Japanese and US-promoted vision for countering China’s growing military and economic clout in the region, the ministry said. Vietnam maintains a balanced diplomacy that is not biased toward either the United States or China. Quad leaders vow to oppose all attempts to ‘change status quo by force’ Following North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launches on Wednesday, they agreed to keep collaborating on the security issues involving the reclusive state’s military and nuclear activities, as well as on issues related to Myanmar, which has been under military rule since a coup in February last year, the ministry said. They also vowed to continue their cooperation in improving conditions for Vietnamese seeking job training in Japan under the technical internship programme, such as efforts to eliminate illegal brokers charging excessive fees to those applying for the programme.