Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and his Indian counterpart, Arun Jaitley, confirmed Tuesday the necessity of increasing pressure on North Korea in cooperation with the international community, amid Pyongyang’s advancing nuclear arms and missile development.
The Indian defense chief’s visit to Japan followed North Korea’s sixth nuclear test Sunday, which Pyongyang claimed was of a hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on an intercontinental ballistic missile. The North fired two ICBMs in July and launched another missile over Japan in late August in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Onodera hailed India’s decision to stop its trade with Pyongyang, saying at the outset of the meeting, “This stance will contain North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.”
On Aug. 5, the U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed the toughest sanctions on the North so far in response to its two ICBM launches, aiming to halt North Korean exports of coal, iron and other items and cut the country’s $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.
Japan and the United States want a fresh Security Council resolution setting out additional sanctions against North Korea such as an oil embargo.
Regarding China’s maritime activities, Onodera and Jaitley reaffirmed that it is important to secure freedom of navigation in the disputed East and South China seas and the Indian Ocean and that the status quo in the waters should not be changed by coercion, according to Onodera.
In an attempt to promote trilateral defense cooperation with the United States, they also agreed to extend military drills, which have been conducted by their navies, to air and ground troops, he said.
Earlier in the day, Jaitley met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who expressed his desire to “change North Korea’s policies in close cooperation with India.”
“Whether North Korea’s reckless acts can be stopped or not depends on the cooperation of the international community,” Abe told Jaitley.
The defense minister echoed the view, saying, “India has taken a very strong position on the tests conducted recently, in fact we have deplored them in no uncertain language.”
Jaitley also said terrorism and proliferation of nuclear technologies and missiles in the Asian region are a “matter of crucial concern for both Japan and India.”
India possesses nuclear weapons but is not a signatory to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Abe asked Jaitley to convey his best regards to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his expected visit to the South Asian country later this month to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a high-speed rail link using Japanese bullet train technology as well as talks with Modi.
The envisioned high-speed railway, using shinkansen technology, will connect Mumbai and Ahmedabad in western India, with services planned to start in 2023.
Upon returning home, Jaitley, who doubles as finance minister, will pass his defense portfolio to Nirmala Sitharaman, the first woman to assume the post, as the Cabinet has been reshuffled.