Metro Manila, Philippines — The national security advisors (NSAs) of the Philippines, the United States, and Japan met for the first time in Tokyo on Friday, reaffirming their countries’ commitment to advance trilateral defense cooperation in response to regional security challenges.

In a joint statement, Philippine NSA Eduardo Año, along with his US and Japanese counterparts Jake Sullivan and Akiba Takeo, said they discussed concrete plans to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region, “especially given unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

Part of their discussions was on the disputed South China Sea, where more tense encounters between Manila and Beijing have occurred in recent months over what the Philippine Coast Guard had described as China’s “aggressive tactics.”

Tensions in the East China Sea, the Taiwan Strait, and in North Korea were also tackled during the meeting.

To enhance defense and security, the NSAs said they explored opportunities to hold joint maritime activities, including multilateral joint naval exercises in Indo-Pacific waters. Earlier this month, the three countries’ coast guards conducted their first trilateral joint training.

They also discussed developments in Philippine-US ties, including the identification of the four additional sites under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Japan and the Philippines, on the other hand, said they talked about frameworks to facilitate reciprocal visits of defense and military officials.

The NSAs further noted that they intend to increase three-way cooperation in the areas of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to address economic coercion in coordination with other partners.

The officials added that they agreed to hold more trilateral exchanges in the coming months among their national security councils to further expand partnership and information-sharing.