NAYPYITAW – Japan, the United States and South Korea reaffirmed on Sunday their intention to continue working closely together to curb North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons development.
Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se discussed their concerns about North Korean provocations, including recent short-range ballistic missile launches and the continuation of nuclear and missile development in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, a Japanese official said.
The three ministers met on the sidelines of the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum, Asia’s biggest security gathering, in the Myanmar capital Naypyitaw.
Referring to Japan’s negotiations with North Korea over its abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, Kishida told Kerry and Yun that Tokyo will ensure transparency in its dealing with Pyongyang.
Kishida’s reassurance was apparently intended to help dispel concerns by Washington and Seoul that Tokyo’s approach to Pyongyang over the abduction issue could undermine coordinated action against the North over its missile and nuclear programs.
On July 4, Japan lifted some of its sanctions on North Korea in return for launching the new round of investigations into abductees and other missing Japanese suspected to have been abducted.
Pyongyang is expected to make a first report on the investigation during the first half of September. The United States and South Korea are concerned that Japan may further ease its unilateral sanctions on North Korea, depending on progress in the abductee probe.
“We will closely monitor the investigations going forward,” Kishida was quoted as saying. “Communications with the United States and South Korea are extremely important. We will handle matters with transparency.”
Kishida reiterated Japan’s position of comprehensively resolving the abduction, nuclear and missile issues with North Korea.
Yun called for increased trilateral policy cooperation, saying, “The situation on the Korean Peninsula is very uncertain and unstable because of the growing threats from North Korea in view of its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the continued launching of missiles, all kinds of missiles.”
Kishida, Kerry and Yun affirmed the importance of boosting coordination with China, Russia and other members of the international community in reining in North Korean provocations.