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Editorial: Int’l community must work together to contain N. Korean nuclear threat

  • February 20, 2018
  • , The Japan News , 07:32 p.m.
  • English Press

It is necessary to reinforce the international net encircling North Korea to force it to abandon its nuclear program, while looking squarely at North’s nuclear threat and heightening deterrence. Japan must seek action from European and other nations in cooperation with the United States.

The Munich Security Conference, an annual meeting aimed at discussing security and diplomatic issues, was held in Germany, attended by about 450 top-level leaders, cabinet members and other figures from various countries.

Regarding North Korea’s nuclear development, Foreign Minister Taro Kono said, “If [that country] is allowed to possess nuclear capabilities, the era of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty will be over. It is essential not to be blinded by [the North’s] ‘smile diplomacy.’” Displaying a photo of North Korean smuggling in international waters, he explained the reality of that country’s attempts to evade sanctions.

 

Although North Korea is taking advantage of the Pyeongchang Olympics to create a conciliatory mood, it remains unchanged in promoting its nuclear development. The international community must cooperate in plugging loopholes in economic sanctions and urge the North to reverse its policy.

 

With cyber-attacks and other actions in mind, the United States has incorporated into its new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) a policy of enabling itself to utilize its nuclear capabilities in various situations and reinforcing its small-scale nuclear weapons. To secure the safety of the United States and its allies, the move is aimed at strengthening the United States’ deterrent power.

 

Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, emphasized the need for Europe’s involvement in the matter, saying, “All allies are now within range of North Korean missiles.”

 

Address Chinese pressure

 

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he does not want a reversion to the era of expanding nuclear armaments. His remark seemed to express concerns about the U.S. nuclear policy.

 

The problem is not solely limited to North Korea. China and Russia are building up their nuclear strength. It is necessary for the United States and European countries to share an awareness of the crisis and promote realistic security policies, including nuclear deterrence.

 

The issue of how to respond to China was also discussed.

 

With China in mind, Kono said, “There have been attempts to change the status quo in the South and East China seas.” He also pointed out problems with the massive “Belt and Road” economic zone initiative. “There are many projects that do not consider the economies of partner countries in Asia, Africa and elsewhere,” he said.

 

Gabriel said the initiative signifies an attempt to establish “a comprehensive system for shaping the world in China’s interest.”

 

It is important for each country to utilize various opportunities to urge China to abide by the rule of law and to advance development projects conducive to regional stability.

 

The attendance at the Munich conference by a Japanese Cabinet member was the first since that of then Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in 2014. Between scheduled events tied to Diet affairs, Kono is making official trips overseas, largely over the weekend.

 

To avoid undermining national interests, the ruling and opposition parties should consider flexible measures to manage Diet affairs, including an increase in the number of opportunities for state ministers to substitute to reply to interpellations.

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