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Editorial: S. Korea should put off aid to North, coordinate closely with Japan, U.S.

The Yomiuri Shimbun


Now is the time to exhaust all means of increasing pressure on North Korea. The effectiveness of unilateral sanctions by the United States should be reinforced to urge Pyongyang to change its policies.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has held a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In in New York, at which they agreed to maximize pressure on North Korea, which has advanced its nuclear and missile development. The leaders also confirmed their commitment to the full implementation of sanctions resolutions by the U.N. Security Council.


Trump explained to his Japanese and South Korean counterparts that he had signed an executive order aiming for an economic blockade in which trade and financial transactions, among others, with North Korea will be strictly restricted. Abe supported the move, and Moon spoke highly of it.


The latest U.S. unilateral sanctions are unprecedentedly stringent with measures including ousting foreign financial institutions with trade connections to North Korea from the international financial system.


If Chinese and Russian financial institutions and companies cooperate, that could cut off sources of revenue for North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, dealing a serious blow to Pyongyang.


China has fallen into line with a call for the implementation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but it has consistently opposed unilateral sanctions against North Korea. It is essential for Japan, the United States and South Korea to tenaciously urge China to cooperate in enforcing sanctions.


Don’t downplay threats


To pressure North Korea, it is vital that as many countries as possible are united in taking action at multiple levels. In addition to a U.N. Security Council resolution focusing on a cap on oil supplies, steps to limit permits for North Korean workers abroad and to isolate Pyongyang diplomatically among others, should be reinforced.


The use of strong pressure could lead to positive results in future dialogue dealing with the daunting challenge of making North Korea abandon its nuclear plans.


In defiance of Trump’s address to the U.N. General Assembly, Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, released a statement saying, “We will consider with seriousness exercising of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho has even mentioned the possibility of his country conducting a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean.


While extreme blackmail is common practice for North Korea, it must not be downplayed. Japan, the United States and South Korea need to strengthen their surveillance, simulating various military provocations and out-of-control acts by North Korea.


Questions have been raised over South Korea’s announcement on Thursday that Seoul will provide Pyongyang with humanitarian aid worth $8 million.


Although the aid, such as staple and medicine, is intended for ordinary people, it could shake the unity of the international community and undermine the effects of pressure. It stands to reason that the leaders of both Japan and the United States called on Moon to exercise restraint during their trilateral meeting.


The wrong message must not be sent to North Korea. South Korea should place importance on coordinated trilateral efforts and put off the humanitarian aid for the time being. It is urged to coordinate in advance with Japan and the United States when dealing with North Korea.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 23, 2017)

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