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Observers in Japan focus on security

The Yomiuri ShimbunPeople across the country were closely watching on Tuesday how the U.S.-North Korea summit unfolded, including those in Hokkaido, where North Korean missiles passed over, and those in Akita Prefecture, where wooden boats believed to be from the North were found offshore.

Ballistic missiles passed over Erimo, Hokkaido, on two occasions last year, in August and September. Regarding the summit on Tuesday, Erimo Mayor Masaki Onishi, 65, told The Yomiuri Shimbun, “The threat from North Korea won’t be eliminated unless North Korea abandons all of its missiles, including short- and medium-range missiles, in addition to [intercontinental] ballistic missiles.”

“I want them to discuss not only U.S. security, but also Japan’s security,” Onishi said.

Akihito Hashimoto, executive coordinator for crisis management at the Hokkaido government, said: “People in Hokkaido have grave concerns after the two missile launches. I hope talks will make progress on realizing denuclearization [of North Korea].”

In Akita Prefecture where wooden vessels believed to be North Korean fishing boats drifted ashore, people in the local fishing industry paid close attention to the summit. Takashi Sato, 59, the head of the prefectural fisheries cooperative’s branch office in Oga, expressed his hope that the summit would help reduce concerns among those in the industry. However, he remained cautious, saying: “It’s questionable if we can really trust North Korea. I still can’t be reassured.”

In November last year, eight men who said they came from North Korea were taken into protective custody late at night in Yurihonjo, Akita Prefecture, in one of the cases in which wooden boats were found to have drifted to the Japanese coast. Kanetoshi Nemoto, 56, the head of the branch of the prefectural fisheries cooperative that covers Yurihonjo, said that ships from North Korea and other countries operate in a fishing spot called Yamatotai off the Noto Peninsula. “If these ships become disabled, many ships could drift to the coast like last winter,” Nemoto said. “I hope the summit will help lead to preventive measures in the future.”

One of the summit’s focal points was whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will accept the “complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea.

Kunihiko Sakuma, 73, head of the Hiroshima prefectural confederation of A-bomb sufferers’ associations, said: “What was unthinkable a year ago actually happened. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula might be difficult in a short period of time, but it is hoped they will set out the direction toward achieving it. I hope atomic bomb survivors won’t be disappointed.”

Koichi Kawano, 78, the chairman of the Nagasaki Prefecture peace movement center’s liaison council for atomic bombing survivors, said: “I can see signs of hope. I want thorough discussions to be made in a bid to make North Korea take concrete actions.”Speech

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