Japan firm on missile position

by Hiroko Nakata

Japan remains firmly behind its U.N. Security Council draft resolution to impose sanctions on North Korea, despite France’s proposed compromise this week, Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe said Wednesday.

“As far as Japan is concerned, we basically will seek adoption of the resolution,” Abe told reporters.

French Ambassador to the U.N. Jean Marc de la Sabliere issued a statement Tuesday saying the Security Council could take a “two-step approach” to North Korea’s missile launches last week.

France is proposing to first adopt a “very strong” presidential statement and then, depending on developments, discuss a resolution.

France is one of the countries that agreed to the Japan-proposed resolution. Other backers include the U.S., Britain, Greece, Denmark, Slovakia and Peru.

France’s move appears to be aimed at easing tension between China, which wants a nonbinding U.N. presidential statement on North Korea, and Japan and the U.S., which seek stronger action.

In the midst of these discussions, Japan and the U.S. are waiting to see if China can persuade Pyongyang to return to six-party talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear threat.

When Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was asked Tuesday if he hopes the council will vote on the resolution before the Group of Eight summit begins in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, he replied: “Yes. It would be better for the council to vote early.”

Later in the day, Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan Thomas Scheiffer met and agreed to continue pursuing a resolution.

“We are going to call for a resolution at the U.N. Security Council based on our belief that we should send a strong message at the council,” Abe said after the meeting.

Asked if they discussed the “two-step approach,” Scheiffer told reporters: “No. We continue to believe that a resolution is the best way.”

He also said there is no deadline for China’s diplomatic efforts. “It’s not surprising it’s difficult. But I think eventually we are gonna get there,” Scheiffer said.

Information from Kyodo added