Cabinet can’t stray during drills: Kan


Prime Minister Naoto Kan instructed the Cabinet on Friday to stay in Tokyo from Saturday to Wednesday to be on the alert for North Korean provocations during a joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea.

The drill, scheduled to start Sunday in the Yellow Sea, follows on the heels of North Korea’s deadly artillery attack Tuesday on a South Korean island.

To prepare for any contingency that may arise from the military exercise, Kan said his ministers should remain in the capital.

“If an emergency occurs and there is an order from the chief Cabinet secretary, all ministers are required to be at their post within an hour of the order,” Kan was quoted as saying by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku.

If a minister must be out of Tokyo over the weekend, Kan said senior vice ministers or parliamentary secretaries should stay, according to Sengoku.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government was criticized for its slow reaction to Tuesday’s shelling. At Thursday’s meeting of the Upper House Budget Committee, the Liberal Democratic Party blamed National Public Safety Commission Chairwoman Tomiko Okazaki for failing to go to the National Police Agency after receiving a report on the attack.

Meanwhile on Friday, the Upper House adopted unanimously a resolution condemning the North Korean artillery attack.

The Lower House was expected to adopt a similar resolution.

The Upper House resolution describes the attack as “an outrageous act of violence” and “indiscriminate,” killing civilians in addition to military personnel.

“No matter what kind of excuses North Korea gives, military provocation involving civilians is unforgivable,” the resolution says.

It demands that Pyongyang stop its military provocations, including the development of nuclear weapons, and resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japan nationals.

The resolution also offers the Lower House’s condolences to victims of the attack.