Defense chiefs from Japan and the United States agreed Wednesday that Tokyo, Washington and Seoul should continue to closely cooperate in developments on the Korean Peninsula.
During a meeting in Tokyo, Defense Agency Director General Hosei Norota promised U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen that he will do his utmost to have bills related to the new Japanese-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines approved during the upcoming regular Diet session, agency officials said.
Both Norota and Cohen shared concerns on North Korea’s firing over Japan of what both say was a missile, and on an underground site suspected of being a nuclear facility, the officials said.
The U.S. defense chief told Norota that Washington would not accept a one-time-only inspection of the suspected site, as Pyongyang has proposed at a cost of $300 million, saying that access to the site must be assured in accordance with the necessity for inspection.
Meanwhile, Norota said Japan might have to freeze its contribution to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, a loose international alliance created in 1994 to provide Pyongyang with crude petroleum and two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for a halt in the communist country’s nuclear weapons program.
Aid may halted if the reclusive nation launches another rocket Japan’s way because of public criticism, they said.
Earlier in the day, Cohen met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka and repeated that it would be up to the Diet whether legal backing is given to the revised Japan-U.S. defense guidelines, and that he has no intention of pressuring Tokyo on the matter, according to a Foreign Ministry official.
The revised guidelines, which were agreed to in 1995 and set to be deliberated at the Diet session opening Tuesday, requires the Self-Defense Forces to provide “rear-area” support to the U.S. forces in contingencies in undefined “areas surrounding Japan.”