Japan will suspend financial assistance to a project to construct light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea if Pyongyang dares to launch another missile, Defense Agency chief Hosei Norota said Thursday.
Norota made the remarks during his talks with South Korean Defense Minister Cheon Yong Taek in Seoul, according to Japanese government officials.
During the meeting, the two agreed to create an emergency network between their defense authorities to exchange information and jointly cope with urgent situations, such as Pyongyang’s launch of a missile or an invasion by submarine.
Norota expressed strong concerns over the “high possibility” that North Korea has completed preparations for another missile launch. Cheon stressed the need to maintain the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization reactor project as a means of preventing Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons.
While approving the point made by Cheon, Norota, however, voiced the possibility that Japan may suspend its support for the project. “If Pyongyang dares to launch another missile, I am afraid that it will become difficult for Japan to continue financial support to the KEDO project,” he was quoted as telling Cheon.
Under the cost-sharing agreement finalized in November, Japan is to provide some $1 billion to the $4.6 billion project to build two light-water reactors in North Korea.
Japan initially made its commitment in July. Infuriated by Pyongyang’s launch of a missile over Japan in August, however, Tokyo froze its participation until November.