National / Politics

Abe notes North Korean threat to Europe as Japan and NATO agree on need for boosted pressure

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg agreed Tuesday that strong international pressure is needed to force North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile ambitions, which they called a global threat.

Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary-general, called for the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula, saying that the ratcheting up of pressure on Pyongyang is aimed at resolving the crisis in a “peaceful” manner.

“I shared the view with Secretary-General Stoltenberg that at this moment, it is necessary to raise pressure to the maximum, rather than to enter dialogue, to force North Korea to abandon all its nuclear and missile programs,” Abe said at a joint news conference after talks with Stoltenberg in Tokyo.

Stoltenberg said Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs “pose a global threat, which requires a global response.”

“North Korea must abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and implement complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Stoltenberg said.

“Prime Minister Abe and I agree that strong international pressure is required to induce Pyongyang to take … a responsible path in order to find a peaceful solution,” he added.

Abe called the pair’s agreement on the issue a “significant achievement.”

At the outset of the meeting, which was open to the media, Abe claimed that North Korea has “developed intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach Europe,” which he characterized as “a grave and impending threat to the international community.”

Japan has been deepening its ties with NATO recently, with Stoltenberg and Abe holding talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels in July. Tokyo has also signed a partnership program with the alliance.

Stoltenberg said he confirmed with Abe that NATO and Japan will boost cooperation to promote maritime security, enhance defenses against cyberattacks and fight terrorism.

Abe said Japan and NATO agreed that they oppose any unilateral action that would change the maritime status quo, apparently taking into account China’s military buildup and territorial ambitions in the East and South China seas.

During his four-day stay in Japan, Stoltenberg also held talks with Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. He was set to depart for South Korea on Wednesday.

Stoltenberg’s visit to Japan is the first by a NATO chief since April 2013, when Anders Rasmussen held the post.

NATO was formed in April 1949 and now consists of 29 countries across North America and Europe.

GET THE BEST OF THE JAPAN TIMES
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5