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Editorial: Russia’s cooperation must be pursued to toughen sanctions against N. Korea

Russia’s cooperation is indispensable to the realization of strict sanctions against North Korea. Japan must continue to work on Russia persistently to achieve this goal, based on the close relationship of the top leaders of the two countries.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Russian Far East city of Vladivostok for their 19th summit meeting.


The two leaders agreed on the view that North Korea’s nuclear test “poses a serious threat to regional peace and security.”


Abe stressed that “it is essential to apply maximum pressure on North Korea.” He thus sought Putin’s cooperation in adopting additional U.N. Security Council resolutions, including a ban on oil exports to North Korea.


Putin, however, did not change his cautious stance, only saying that “political and diplomatic efforts can only lead to the solution of the nuclear issue.”


A permanent Security Council member, Russia acts in concert with China in calling for “freezing U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises and North Korea’s nuclear development program simultaneously.” It is unreasonable to trade the U.S.-South Korea joint war games for nuclear development to work out a deal. Even if the joint military exercises are frozen, there is no guarantee that the North will abandon its nuclear development.


“North Korea won’t relinquish its nuclear development even if pressure is applied,” Putin said. This statement seems rather irresponsible.

For “dialogue with the North,” to which Moscow attaches importance, to prove successful, it is essential to apply pressure in such a way as to make Pyongyang feel pain. Putin is called on to deal with the situation from a comprehensive standpoint of ensuring security in East Asia.


Seal all loopholes


Russia is required to implement resolutions adopted at the Security Council. Moscow should suspend as soon as possible the regular service of the North Korean cargo-passenger ship Mangyongbong between the two countries, which has been pointed to as a loophole in the U.N. sanctions.


With respect to Japan-Russia joint economic activities in the northern territories, Abe and Putin agreed to target five fields of cooperation, including aquaculture and tourism.


It can be said that this was a realistic selection based on the request of Hokkaido.


It is important to devise a “special system” that will not impair the legal positions of Japan or Russia. This is because the joint economic activities are expressly designed to make arrangements for promotion of bilateral negotiations on the return of the northern territories held by Russia.


Russia’s demand for application of its own domestic laws to such matters as police and taxation powers can never be accepted. Making excessive concessions in haste for the sake of hammering out an agreement must be avoided.


It was natural that Japan repeatedly expressed concern over Russia’s plan to establish a special economic zone on Shikotan Island, part of the northern territories.


The Russian plan can be regarded as pouring cold water on planned Japan-Russia joint economic activities. Russia’s future moves in this regard must be watched closely.


In their latest summit meeting, Abe and Putin agreed on a plan for Japanese to fly to Kunashiri and Etorofu islands to visit their ancestors’ graves. The Russian authorities are called on to pay utmost consideration to the convenience of the aging former islanders.

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