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Lavrov raises concern over Japan’s backing of U.S. stance on N. Korea

  • November 24, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 11:09 p.m.
  • English Press

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov voiced caution Friday about Japan’s support for the stance on North Korea taken by the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which has refused to rule out military action against the North.


At a joint press conference after a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Taro Kono in Moscow, Lavrov said it is worrying that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said Japan stands 100 percent with the United States on North Korea.

“(Military action) is bound to lead to tragic consequences,” Lavrov said at the press conference.


In response, Kono said Japan “welcomes” the deterrent capability of the United States.


Abe has repeatedly expressed support for the Trump administration’s position that all options are “on the table” in dealing with Pyongyang.


Lavrov also expressed “deep concern” about Japan’s plan to adopt an “Aegis Ashore” land-based missile defense system, which would increase its capability to intercept missiles launched at Japanese territory from North Korea.


Japanese and U.S. destroyers currently use a ship-based version of the system, but the Japanese Defense Ministry has requested funds in the budget for the fiscal year starting April for a land-based program.


Kono appealed for Russia’s understanding on the new system, telling Lavrov it is “not something that poses a threat to Japan-Russia relations.”


Despite their differences over how to deal with North Korea, the foreign ministers made some progress on bilateral relations, agreeing to make arrangements for Abe to visit Russia in May next year.


Kono and Lavrov also discussed progress on joint economic activities on islands off Hokkaido that are controlled by Russia and claimed by Japan.


They confirmed their governments’ plan to proceed with dialogue on realizing the joint activities in a way that does not compromise either side’s legal stance on the islands’ sovereignty.


They agreed to hold director general-level talks on the matter during December, followed by vice ministerial-level talks in late January or February.


The top envoys agreed to meet in Japan next year following the series of lower-level talks, with Kono telling Lavrov he wants to meet him in Tokyo next time.


They confirmed they will keep discussing the continuation of flights to the islands for Japanese former residents to visit family gravesites, the first of which took place in September this year.


The talk was followed by a meeting of the Japan-Russia Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Issues, co-chaired by Kono and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.


Kono arrived in Moscow on Thursday for the meetings, and is set to return to Japan on Sunday.

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