South Korea, Japan and China agreed Thursday to strengthen cooperation for environmental protection and scientific research in the Arctic, the foreign ministry said.
"Climate change is affecting the vulnerable Arctic ecosystems, the livelihoods of local inhabitants and indigenous communities on a global scale, while the melting of ice brings new opportunities, such as natural resources and marine fisheries, in the Arctic, as well as the opening of sea routes," the three countries said in a joint statement issued after a high-level meeting in Tokyo.
They are observers to the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection in the polar region.
"It is indispensable for the international community to ensure the protection and preservation of the fragile marine environment of the Arctic Ocean, and maintain peace, stability and constructive cooperation based on a rule-based maritime order," it added.
The meeting comes amid growing concerns of climate change's impact on the region and growing competition over vast natural resources and new maritime routes that emerge as ice melts.
The meeting marked the second of its kind following their first gathering in Seoul in April 2016.
The statement said they plan to report their discussion to the Arctic Council, which consists of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States. (Yonhap)