In connection with the fact that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un once again declared that his country is a “nuclear power,” but is committed to “no first-use” of nuclear weapons, the Japanese government intends to remain vigilant as it views Kim’s statement as part of his “brinkmanship” tactic of trying to elicit concessions while raising tensions.
Appearing on a Fuji TV program on May 8, Masahiko Shibata, a special advisor to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, pointed out that Kim says “the condition (for no first-use of nuclear arms) is ‘unless sovereignty is infringed on by hostile forces.’” He then criticized this by saying, “We cannot take what he says at face value because he claims he will make efforts to build peace for denuclearization.”
The major aim of North Korea’s nuclear development is to hold negotiations with the United States after becoming a nuclear power “equal” to the U.S. and to obtain a guarantee from the U.S. that its regime will be maintained. Japanese government sources reckon that “Kim will likely provoke other countries while continuing to conduct nuclear tests and development.”
The Japanese government is considering having a senior Foreign Ministry official hold teleconferences with the U.S. and South Korea to confirm trilateral cooperation in dealing with Pyongyang. It also plans to continue applying pressure on North Korea by taking advantage of economic sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council. Meanwhile, it intends to search for some clues for resolving the issue of North Korea’s abduction of Japanese nationals.
Appearing on a BS Asahi program on May 8, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Seiji Kihara said: “It is realistic for Japan to apply pressure so that North Korea joins meaningful dialogue while taking concrete actions toward denuclearization.” The Japanese government will probably have to strike a balance between “dialogue and pressure.”