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Japan condemns N. Korea over nuclear test, eyes more sanctions

  • September 9, 2016
  • , The Mainichi
  • English Press

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese government slammed North Korea for its fifth nuclear test Friday and vowed to consider further unilateral sanctions against it for defying international warnings over its nuclear and missile programs.


“We simply cannot tolerate (the fact) that North Korea forced through a nuclear test,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement, describing it as happening after an “unprecedentedly” short interval since the last nuclear test in January.


The government said it will work closely with the United States and South Korea to deal with the situation. As a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Tokyo is also seeking an emergency session of the council, as the nuclear test came in defiance of a U.N. sanctions resolution adopted against North Korea in March.


In a sign of unity between Japan and the United States, its security treaty ally, Abe held a 10-minute phone conversation with U.S. President Barack Obama in the afternoon and the two leaders agreed to closely cooperate to deal with the situation, a Japanese government official said.


The official said Obama highlighted the strength of the bilateral alliance and reassured Abe that Washington is committed to Japan’s security. Japan relies on U.S. nuclear deterrence to protect it from threats posed by nuclear-weapons countries.


Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, meanwhile, met U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel in Tokyo.


“We are committed to working very closely with you, the Republic of Korea, China, Russia and other partners to ensure that…we put tough pressure on North Korea as a consequence of its bad behavior,” Russel said at the outset of the meeting.


The Japanese government lodged a protest with North Korea through its embassy in Beijing and convened a National Security Council meeting to share and assess information.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference that Tokyo will “think about further unilateral sanctions” against North Korea, but did not elaborate.


Defense Minister Tomomi Inada indicated at a press conference that North Korea seems to have made progress in its nuclear weapons program, saying the possibility of North Korea having miniaturized nuclear weapons through the last four nuclear tests cannot be denied.


The Defense Ministry has sent an Air Self-Defense Force plane to collect airborne samples of radioactive materials that could have been released in the latest nuclear test.


A seismic event with a magnitude of 5.3 was detected in an area near the country’s key nuclear test site in its northeast at 9 a.m. Pyongyang time. Several hours later, North Korea said it conducted a nuclear test.

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