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Kanji Yamanouchi is Japan’s Ambassador to Canada.

This week, Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly will travel to Japan, marking the first visit to the country by a Canadian foreign minister since the COVID-19 pandemic began. This will mark a new chapter of Canada-Japan relations, and Japan heartily welcomes her visit from Canada, which is one of Japan’s most important like-minded partners.

That’s particularly true now, since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has shaken the very foundations of the international order. We are currently standing at a crossroads: We can either uphold a free and open international order based on the rule of law, or allow the unilateral actions, which are not compatible with the established international norm.

During his keynote address at the Shangri-La Dialogue in June, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stressed that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine should not be regarded as “someone else’s problem” because of its consequences on the international order. This is why Japan changed its foreign policy toward Russia and imposed sanctions.

We have increasingly witnessed similar moves in the Indo-Pacific region. Some countries have increased their defence budgets without transparency. Chinese ballistic missiles fired toward the Taiwan Strait recently fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone. Russia has engaged in military exercises in our northern territories, and during a May summit of the leaders of the Quad (the U.S., Japan, India and Australia) in Tokyo, Russia conducted joint bomber flights with China near Japan. And North Korea has intensified its nuclear and missile activities; not only did it launch four ballistic missiles in the last week of September alone, the country fired a ballistic missile over Japanese territory for the first time in five years on Oct. 4.

Ongoing unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force in the East and South China seas are growing concerns not only in East Asia, but for the entire international community. As Mr. Kishida said in June, “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow.”

The pandemic and other global events have made clear there are new challenges to economic security, including economic coercion, theft of critical technology and cyber-attacks. And Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has affected international energy, food and supply-chain security, and has made resource-rich Canada’s position more important for Japan.

So Japan and Canada, which share values based on the rule of law, have a huge responsibility at this critical juncture.

In 2016, the late former prime minister Shinzo Abe first advocated a vision of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” Many global actors, including the U.S., the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have since echoed their Indo-Pacific visions in their own ways. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also agreed to work together with Mr. Abe to strengthen the strategic partnership between Japan and Canada in 2019.

At the time, our foreign ministers set out six priority areas in which the countries could co-operate more deeply, to advance a Free and Open Indo-Pacific: rule of law; peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; health security and responding to COVID-19; energy security; free trade promotion and trade agreement implementation; and environment and climate change. Those priorities have been an anchor for the Japan-Canada strategic partnership, and a guide for future co-operation.

We have seen remarkable progress as a result. For example, in the face of North Korea’s missile launches, Canada has engaged in monitoring and surveillance activities against illicit maritime activities, including ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean-flagged vessels, which violate UN Security Council resolutions. Canada has also deployed its frigates and aircraft in the area in support of UN sanctions against North Korea. LNG Canada, the largest single private sector investment in Canadian history – and one in which a Japanese company has invested – is expected to start exporting Canada’s liquefied natural gas to the Indo-Pacific by the mid-2020s, which will contribute to the region’s energy security. Our two countries have also worked closely together through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, including on climate change issues.

Ms. Joly and her Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, will now discuss how Japan and Canada will enhance co-operation in order to realize the stable and prosperous region. While the rules-based international order has been challenged in the region and the world, our foreign ministers’ upcoming meeting will contribute to the betterment of the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The road to a Free and Open Indo-Pacific may be long, but unshakable commitment by Japan and Canada will bring a bright future for us all.