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Editorial: Japan, U.S., S. Korea must stand firm on unity to boost pressure on North

The noose around North Korea, which has pushed forward with its nuclear and missile development, will be tightened. China will be urged to impose strict sanctions against Pyongyang. The unity of Japan, the United States and South Korea is essential for this multilayered diplomatic strategy.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In agreed to ramp up pressure on North Korea when they met in Germany.


They also shared the view that the three countries should work together to adopt an additional U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution on North Korea and deliver a strong message to Pyongyang at the Group of 20 summit meeting.


The United States acknowledged that the missile fired by North Korea on Tuesday was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Although questions remain, such as over North Korea’s ability to establish the technology for a missile’s reentry into the atmosphere, there is no doubt Pyongyang’s threat could extend over not only Northeast Asia, but also over more far-reaching areas.


As major players dealing with the North Korean issue, Japan, the United States and South Korea would be urged to take the lead in stepping up international pressure at the U.N. Security Council, G-20 summit talks and other occasions.


It is alarming that Moon has kept his basic stance of stressing dialogue while also currently staying in line with the approach of increasing pressure. Will this not send a wrong message to North Korea and weaken the effect of international pressure?


During the trilateral meeting, Abe stressed that the ICBM launch shows “North Korea has no intention of having serious dialogue.”


China efforts key


Producing specific results through dialogue, such as a freeze on and the abandonment of North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, is based on the premise that strict and effective sanctions will be imposed first to draw a compromise from Pyongyang.


It is vital for both Japan and the United States to make extra sure that South Korea does not reinforce its conciliatory stance toward the North and fall out of step by also holding discussions at various levels based on the latest agreement among the three leaders.


The three leaders have agreed to prod China to play a greater role. Trump indicated that he intends to broaden financial sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals conducting illegal transactions with North Korea.


China is key to achieving the difficult goal of making North Korea change its path. The United States’ unilateral sanctions against Chinese firms and individuals is applaudable as part of its diplomatic efforts to draw tough measures from Beijing, including a limit on crude oil supply.


Despite China’s opposition, it is important for both Japan and South Korea to firmly back the United States.


To adopt an additional sanctions resolution of the U.N. Security Council, the cooperation of China and Russia — veto powers that have been tepid in strengthening sanctions — is indispensable. It is important that Japan, a non-permanent member of the council, exhausts all efforts to persuade China and Russia through its cooperation with the United States and other countries.

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