NEW YORK – Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his South Korean counterpart, Kang Kyung-wha, agreed Friday to promote security cooperation in response to the rising nuclear threat posed by North Korea.
In a meeting in New York, Kono and Kang concurred on the need to study “various ideas” for deeper security cooperation, but a Japanese official who briefed reporters about the meeting declined to specify the nature of such options.
They also agreed to ensure bilateral and trilateral coordination with the United States in applying maximum pressure on North Korea — in concert with other countries — so as to compel Pyongyang to give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
Following the Sept. 3 test of what Pyongyang said was a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested to reporters Thursday in New York that the North could detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.
There is growing speculation that North Korea may conduct yet another provocative act around the founding anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on Oct. 10.
Despite differences between Tokyo and Seoul over issues such as Korean “comfort women” forced to work before and during World War II in brothels for the Japanese military, Kono and Kang agreed to manage these issues well so as to build a future-oriented relationship, according to the official.
Aside from the matter of comfort women, the issue of South Koreans seeking compensation for forced labor during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula remains another thorny issue between the two neighbors.
Kono said he looks forward to welcoming South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kang in Japan during a trilateral summit with China that the three governments plan to hold by the end of the year.
In a separate meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on the fringes of the U.N. General Assembly, Kono said Japan wants to cooperate with Tehran and other countries in ensuring a rigorous enforcement of U.N. sanctions on North Korea, according to the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo.
Zarif was quoted by the ministry as saying that Iran is opposed to the development of nuclear weapons, including nuclear tests.