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Abe: Maximize pressure on N. Korea

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the press at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo early Wednesday morning.

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government plans to urge the international community to further heighten pressure on North Korea after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday for the first time in about 2½ months.

The government intends to maintain a high level of surveillance, as North Korea could repeat its military provocations.

“We will raise pressure to the maximum level without giving in to any provocative act,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters early Wednesday morning.

The government convened a meeting of the National Security Council later the same day, in which the four ministers seated on the council discussed possible responses. They also confirmed the government’s stance of pressuring the North through calling for action by the international community, including additional U.N. Security Council sanctions and a review of diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.

Japan plans to seek cooperation from relevant countries at the U.N. Security Council, which will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday evening (Thursday morning JST), as well as at a ministerial meeting of the council on the North Korean nuclear threat scheduled for mid-December.

China and Russia, which wield influence over North Korea, are key to increasing pressure on Pyongyang. On Sept. 11, the U.N. Security Council adopted a sanctions resolution that bans an increase in crude oil exports to the North beyond the preceding year’s level. The Japanese government intends to urge both Beijing and Moscow to cooperate, with a Foreign Ministry senior official saying, “If the crude oil export cap is tightened, North Korea could be further cornered.”

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first ballistic missile test since Sept. 15. For the 2½ months since then, the Defense Ministry and the Self-Defense Forces had maintained a high level of surveillance. The government had been on higher alert after detecting signs of a potential North Korean missile launch several days earlier.

Abe told reporters, “The government was fully aware of the missile activities and took all possible crisis management measures.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said the missile launch was expected. “As North Korea had been developing an ICBM [intercontinental ballistic missile]-class missile for some time, a launch was possible at any moment,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday morning.

Since August 2016, the government has issued a standing order to the SDF to destroy incoming ballistic missiles. Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan armed with Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors remain on alert, while the Air Defense Force has deployed 34 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air guided missile units throughout the nation.

Consensus on resolution

Following the missile launch, the secretaries general and Diet affairs committee chiefs for the Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner Komeito held talks at a Tokyo hotel on Wednesday morning. They agreed to seek the adoption of a resolution condemning the North Korean act during the current Diet session.Speech

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