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Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Japan scrambles for right response
By MASAMI ITO and JUN HONGO
The government Tuesday welcomed the U.N. Security Council's quick opposition to North Korea's nuclear test but continued to scramble for a fresh response to Pyongyang's latest provocation.
Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed during a phone conference in the morning that Pyongyang's nuclear test was "a serious threat to the peace and stability of Northeast Asia and the international community," and that a swift adoption of a U.N. resolution against the reclusive state is necessary.
They also confirmed that Japan, the U.S. and South Korea will cooperate more closely over North Korea and stressed the importance of coordinating with China and Russia.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said the government plans to hold phone conferences with the Chinese and Russian leaders.
He said he had not received word of whether Japan would draft a U.N. resolution but refused to rule out the possibility.
"I have not received a clear report on whether Japan will draft the resolution or not," Kawamura said. "But considering that we asked for a Security Council (meeting), I believe that Japan is fully capable of playing a central role in the discussions."
The government's top spokesman added that Japan would focus on crafting an effective resolution, rather than becoming preoccupied with slapping additional sanctions on the North.
"Discussions must be made on how to make the resolution effective because the fact is North Korea did not follow the presidential statement nor the statement issued by the six-party talks," Kawamura said. "Also, what needs to be discussed is the future of North Korea and how it is going to step into the international community."
Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone reiterated that there "needs to be a strong resolution this time," referring to the nonbinding statement the Security Council settled on after Pyongyang's missile launch in April.
The council has so far acted swiftly and its members share a strong opposition to the nuclear test, Nakasone said, adding they will proceed to discuss measures to be included in the new resolution.
Penalties, including economic sanctions, must be the result of a global effort to be truly effective, Nakasone said.
He spoke by phone with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday night and was reminded of Washington's commitment to the region's security. Clinton reportedly reassured Nakasone that the U.S. is determined to carry out its duties under the bilateral security treaty.