Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday agreed to closely cooperate in maintaining regional peace and stability amid China's growing maritime assertiveness.

During their 20-minute phone talks, Suga pledged to provide 20 billion yen in financial support to the Philippine government for COVID-19 control measures, including assistance for developing a cold-chain distribution network for vaccines, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

Suga expressed his opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China seas while sharing "grave concerns" over recent developments in China, including the implementation of a new law in February that allows its coast guard to use weapons against ships it views as intruding into its territory.

The two leaders also agreed to continue to work together to improve the situation in Myanmar, where the crackdown on protesters following a February military coup continues.

Suga was scheduled to visit the Philippines earlier this month, but canceled the trip due to a surge in coronavirus infections in Japan.