National / Politics

Japan's next ambassador to U.S. firm on stance against North Korea

JIJI

Shinsuke Sugiyama, the next Japanese ambassador to the United States, said Thursday that he will do all he can to resolve issues pertaining to North Korea’s nuclear arms and missile programs and its abductions of Japanese nationals.

“I’ll make my utmost effort to resolve the North Korean nuclear, missile and abduction issues, under strong cooperation between Japan and the United States, and among the two plus South Korea,” Sugiyama, who will arrive in the United States next month, said in an interview with news organizations.

The North Korean situation is “far from improving, … even worsening,” the former vice foreign minister pointed out. The current situation “can be called the biggest crisis for Japan’s security since World War II,” he said.

“With the maximum pressure policy against North Korea, we’ll continue efforts to convince North Korea that it has no future unless it changes its policy,” Sugiyama said.

Sugiyama said the Japanese-U.S. alliance will remain firm on North Korean issues, noting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump have a “very close and firm personal relationship of trust.”

“The prime minister and the president completely share the stance of rejecting any dialogue (with North Korea) unless its denuclearization is a precondition,” he said.

“There shouldn’t be disagreements between Japan and the United States, and among Japan, the United States and South Korea,” he said. “My duty will be to regularly confirm this position with the U.S. government and strengthen our ties.”

Sugiyama added that there would be a need for talks if North Korea becomes serious about abandoning its nuclear arms and missile programs and resolving the abduction issue.

Besides the North Korean issues, the incoming ambassador underscored the need to deepen bilateral economic talks under a scheme led by Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Sugiyama also said he will work hard to gain acceptance of Japan’s position against statues built in the United States, as well as other countries, that symbolize the “comfort women,” or Korean and other females who were forced to sexually serve wartime Japanese soldiers.