The government has decided to submit to the Diet a bill that would enable the Japan Coast Guard to inspect North Korean cargo on the high seas in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution, government sources said Monday.
“If there are any legal flaws in putting (the U.N. resolution) into practice, we need to take action so as to deal with it properly,” Prime Minister Taro Aso said in reference to the resolution adopted Friday in response to Pyongyang’s May 25 nuclear test.
The resolution urges member states to inspect all cargo to and from the North in their territories, including seaports and airports, if they have “information that provides reasonable grounds” to believe the cargo contains nuclear and missile-related items.
It also calls for member states to inspect suspicious North Korean-related vessels, with the consent of the flag state, on the high seas.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura suggested the government is looking to draw up a basic outline for the bill by the end of the week so it can be submitted during the current legislative session.
The government wants the bill “enacted smoothly,” he said. “I understand that we can consult with the Democratic Party of Japan (on this matter).”
The government initially planned to have the Self-Defense Forces undertake the inspections but changed its plans after some lawmakers in the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc voiced opposition.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada has indicated that inspections of North Korean cargo will be conducted in Japan’s home waters and that the coast guard is capable of carrying them out.
Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief of New Komeito’s Policy Research Council, has insisted the inspections should be chiefly carried out by the coast guard.
The government apparently determined that the coast guard should take the lead to reduce the possibility of encounters with North Korean vessels turning violent.
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