The fourth nuclear test conducted by North Korea on Jan. 6 poses a grave threat, not only to the peace and security of Japan and the region, but also to those of the international community as a whole, in conjunction with North Korea’s enhancement of ballistic missile capability. This grave challenge to the international peace and security requires serious attention and action of the international community.
In the past 10 years, the U.N. Security Council has adopted five major resolutions that impose and strengthen sanctions on North Korea for continuing to develop its nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang has been required to refrain from any provocation including nuclear tests and abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear and missile programs. The recent nuclear test is a clear violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions and represents a grave challenge to the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
As the coordinator country of the promotion of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all types of nuclear testing, as well as a member of the Security Council, Japan is committed to addressing this serious challenge in partnership with the international community. Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida promptly held talks with his counterparts including of the Republic of Korea and the G7 countries to ensure close cooperation.
Based on the request from Japan and the United States, the UN Security Council held urgent consultations and strongly condemned the nuclear test. It is now working on a new resolution to take further measures against North Korea.
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The day after the test, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with President Obama and President Park of the Republic of Korea, and affirmed to take resolute actions against North Korea. Cooperation between the three countries, with Japan and the Republic of Korea, as both allies of the United States, is crucial in addressing the threat posed by North Korea.
What is perhaps less known is a landmark announcement on Dec. 28 last year by the foreign ministers of Japan and the Republic of Korea regarding the issue of comfort women. The Japanese prime minister expressed anew his most sincere apologies and remorse to all the former comfort women, and building on the previous efforts by Japan, the Japanese government announced it will take further measures to heal wounds of all former comfort women in full cooperation with the government of the ROK. Both governments confirmed that this issue is resolved finally and irreversibly.
The announcement is a reflection of the strong will of the leaders of both countries to overcome sensitive issues and move forward and strengthen cooperation to address current challenges in security and economy, and each government is currently making efforts to faithfully implement the content of the agreement. In the recent phone call, President Obama expressed his respect for Prime Minister Abe’s courage and resolve.
It is hoped that the international community welcomes such a positive development in diplomacy as the world faces new challenges to global security.
Ken Okaniwa is the Consul General of the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami and has held the post of Councilor in charge of security and crisis management at Japan’s Cabinet Secretariat in Tokyo.