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Govt to keep up pressure on N. Korea

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe Japanese government is increasing its vigilance against North Korea, as it believes North Korea has accepted Seoul’s offer of high-level talks because Pyongyang is aiming to fracture the solidarity among Japan, the United States and South Korea, which are putting pressure on Pyongyang.

“North Korea has consistently been engaging in its nuclear and missile development. While showing its willingness for dialogue, on the other hand it has been taking provocative actions. As a result, the international community has been betrayed,” Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said at a press conference on Friday, openly expressing his skepticism about Pyongyang’s soft approach to the high-level talks.

Regarding the fact that North Korea has shown a stance of accepting dialogue immediately before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the Japanese government believes North Korea is trying to rattle South Korea. As a senior Foreign Ministry official said, “Taking advantage of South Korea, which wants to hold the Olympics successfully, [North Korea] is aiming to stir up [Seoul].”

The Japanese government is also concerned that the administration of South Korean President Moon Jae In, who takes a conciliatory attitude toward North Korea, might drop its approach of putting pressure on Pyongyang.

In telephone talks on Friday, Kenji Kanasugi, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, reconfirmed with Joseph Yun, U.S. special representative for North Korean policy, the necessity of enhancing pressure on North Korea.

Ahead of the North-South talks, the Japanese and U.S. governments intend to strongly urge South Korea not to make concessions to North Korea.

Kanasugi plans to visit South Korea from Sunday, and meet with Lee Do Hoon — the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs — and other officials to call on South Korea to strengthen their solidarity.

The Japanese government intends to continue applying pressure on North Korea in cooperation with the United States and other countries if Pyongyang does not abandon its nuclear and missile development. It also intends to ask countries such as China and Russia, which have strong relationships with North Korea, to strictly implement sanctions based on U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said emphatically at a press conference on Friday, “While cooperating with the United States and South Korea and collaborating with related countries, including China and Russia, [the Japanese government] will increase its pressure as much as possible through every possible measure to make North Korea change its policies.” Speech

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