Japan and Canada agreed Tuesday to send a “strong message” on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs at this year’s Group of Seven advanced nations’ meetings, to be hosted by Canada.
While Foreign Minister Taro Kono and his Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland did not make clear exactly what that message will be, they affirmed that Japan and Canada will maintain pressure on the North ahead of planned inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korean summits.
“As the situation in North Korea and the rest of the world becomes more uncertain, it’s increasingly important for the G-7 nations to coordinate in leading the international community,” Kono said at a joint news conference after the talks with Freeland in Tokyo.
“Our agenda will be flexible … but it will certainly include discussions on key regional and global challenges such as North Korea, Russia and Ukraine, Venezuela and Myanmar,” Freeland said.
They agreed to continue to press Pyongyang, including through U.N. sanctions, to compel it to “completely, verifiably and irreversibly” scrap its nuclear and missile programs.
Freeland’s visit to Japan comes ahead of the G-7 foreign ministers’ gathering in Toronto next month and leaders’ summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, in June. The group includes Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, along with the European Union.
Canada has been actively involved in the international response to North Korea’s arms programs and co-hosted with the United States in January a ministerial-level meeting on the issue, with Kono among the attendees.
The ministers also affirmed their wish for the early signing of a bilateral acquisition and cross-servicing agreement, a type of defense equipment sharing pact.
Freeland said it could take place “perhaps as soon as on the margins of the G-7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Toronto.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau welcomed a broad agreement on the pact when they met in May last year, but it has yet to be signed.
Kono and Freeland also confirmed that Japan and Canada will work closely to put the revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal into force.
Japan, Canada and nine other Pacific Rim countries signed the pact earlier this month following the United States’ withdrawal.