Japanese Government to Take Tougher Line After Latest N. Korean Missile Launch

(The Japan News/Yomiuri) -

The Japanese government will adopt a sterner stance against North Korea, which has launched ballistic missiles three weeks in a row.

At the Group of Seven summit on Friday and Saturday in Taormina, Italy, the G-7 nations confirmed the need to strengthen pressure on Pyongyang, which is developing nuclear weapons and missiles. The G-7 members and other nations are expected to band together to work with the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution on additional sanctions.

The government was also to directly ask Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, who arrived in Japan on Monday, to put more pressure on North Korea.

“Conducting ballistic missile launches three weeks in a row is an overt defiance of the international community,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters at the ministry’s office on Monday morning, condemning North Korea.

“We will hold discussions to find the most appropriate way to handle the situation, including what else the international community and the (U.N.) Security Council need to do,” Kishida added, expressing his intention to work with other nations toward new sanctions.

During the Taormina summit, leaders of the G-7 nations shared the recognition that North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions are “a top priority in the international agenda” and Pyongyang “poses new levels of threat,” as they wrote in the statement of the summit.

By calling on the G-7 member nations to unite, and for the United States and South Korea to band together with Japan, the government hopes to create a strong international coalition against Pyongyang. However, even though G-7 nations are taking the lead in asking the security council for further sanctions, the resolution will not be adopted if it is rejected by China and Russia, both of which have veto power.

China holds the key to changing North Korea’s stance, as it accounts for about 90 percent of Pyongyang’s total trade and has influence on the nation.

Yang was to hold talks with Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat of the National Security Council, on Monday afternoon, to be followed by a meeting with Kishida on Tuesday. Through a series of talks with Yang, the government was to directly ask him to implement measures with greater impact on North Korea, such as restrictions on crude oil exports to the nation and on the acceptance of North Korean workers.

“China plays an important role,” Kishida said on Monday. “We hope to productively exchange opinions.”

At the Defense Ministry in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district, the chiefs of staff held an emergency meeting from early in the morning.

“The most terrible thing would be us getting used to this,” a senior official said grimly regarding the third missile launch by North Korea this month.

As the missile launched on May 14 reached the highest altitude ever for North Korea, in excess of around 2,000 kilometers, some experts say Pyongyang is testing a new type of missile.

“By repeating launches, North Korea’s missile development is steadily progressing,” a senior ministry official said.