WASHINGTON – Japan, the U.S. and South Korea on Tuesday reaffirmed their intention to work closely together on how they will respond if, as appears likely, North Korea defies international condemnation and launches a long-range rocket, a senior Japanese diplomat said.
During a trilateral meeting of senior officials at the U.S. State Department, the participants shared their “strong concern” over the North’s planned rocket launch and agreed to continue diplomatic efforts “until the last minute” with the cooperation of China and Russia to dissuade it from conducting the launch, Shinsuke Sugiyama, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told reporters in Washington.
But the three countries also agreed that if Pyongyang goes ahead with the launch, the international community would need to take “firm steps” against the country, based on the presidential statement of the U.N. Security Council regarding the North’s failed rocket launch April 13, Sugiyama said. While Pyongyang announced Saturday it plans to launch “an Earth observation satellite” later this month, many countries, including Japan and the United States, suspect it is a covert test of ICBM technology in violation of Security Council resolutions.
Empty boat reaches Sado
Another wooden boat believed to be North Korean was found Tuesday on the coast of Sado Island off Niigata Prefecture with no one aboard, the coast guard said.
The discovery comes after a small wooden vessel believed to have come from the North was found in nearby waters Saturday with the decomposing remains of one man aboard. The 9th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters in Niigata Prefecture said the victim apparently died one to two months earlier.
A broken wood boat also beached Saturday on Sado, and an open skiff carrying five dead men grounded Nov. 28. The boats are all believed from the North.