Japan’s Abe seeks meet with North Korea’s Kim despite missile launch

A Tokyo resident looks at a roadside television screen reporting on North Korea’s projectile launch on August 16, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2019

Japan’s Abe seeks meet with North Korea’s Kim despite missile launch

  • North Korea said this week it had successfully test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile from the sea
  • During periods of tension, Pyongyang has threatened to rain destruction down on Japan

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Friday he was determined to meet North Korea’s leader to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, maintaining an offer to talk despite the country’s missile launches.
North Korea said this week it had successfully test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile from the sea, to contain external threats and bolster self-defense, ahead of fresh nuclear talks with the United States.
“I am determined to meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un face-to-face, with no preconditions, to resolve the all-important abduction issue,” Abe said in a policy speech at the beginning of a parliamentary session.
In 2002, North Korea admitted its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese decades before. Japan says 17 of its citizens were abducted, five of whom were repatriated. North Korea has said eight are dead and another four never entered the country.
Abe has vowed to pursue the issue until all the abductees come home, despite regional tension over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.
Staunch US ally Japan and North Korea have been rivals for decades. During periods of tension, North Korea has threatened to rain destruction down on Japan, and North Korea has test-fired missiles into the seas near Japan and even over it.
“The abductees issue is core to Abe’s political identity and one of the reasons he’s got to the position he has,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.
But Abe has little leverage over Pyongyang at a time when US President Donald Trump is pursuing further talks with the North Korean leader. The two sides are set to hold fresh nuclear talks on Oct. 5.
“The only role Japan will play is to bankroll whatever deal is struck,” said Brad Glosserman, deputy director of the Center for Rule-making Strategies at Tama University in Tokyo.
“In the interim, North Korea has no reason to speak to Japan and will use it as a scapegoat to pull out whenever they want.”
Japan condemned North Korea’s latest missile test on Wednesday, with Abe saying it was a violation of United Nations sanctions.
The launch was the North’s most provocative since it resumed dialogue with the United States in 2018 and a reminder from Pyongyang of the weapons capability it has been aggressively developing.
“As for the North Korean situation, we will do our utmost to secure the safety of the people, while working closely with the United States and cooperating with the international community,” Abe said in his speech.
Turning to ties with South Korea, soured by a feud over wartime labor that has spilled over into trade and security matters, Abe reiterated a call for Seoul to observe a promise to Tokyo.
Last October, South Korea’s Supreme Court ordered some Japanese firms to compensate Koreans forced to work in their mines and factories during World War Two.
Japan, which says the matter was settled by a 1965 treaty, calls the court decision a violation of international law.
“South Korea is an important neighbor. I would like to ask them to observe a promise made between nations, based on international law.”


Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

In this handout photograph taken and released by Indian Presidential Palace on October 18, 2019, India's President Ram Nath Kovind (C-L) attends a press conference with Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (C-R) at Malacanan Palace in Manila. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

  • The two leaders agreed to strengthen maritime security ties

MANILA: The Philippines and India have agreed to boost defense and security cooperation following talks between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind on Friday.
Kovind is in Manila as part of a five-day official visit to the Philippines that began on Thursday.
In a joint statement, Duterte said he and Kovind have committed to building a “partnership” between the Philippines and India “that enables us to face challenges to our hard-won progress, jointly and effectively.”
As Duterte welcomed India’s role in his country’s defense capability upgrade program, against the backdrop of growing security cooperation, he said they have agreed “to continue working together to fight terrorism and violent extremism and other transboundary threats.”
Kovind said “both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,” and the two leaders “committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms
and manifestations.”
He added: “As two vibrant democracies that believe in a rules-based international order, respect for international law and sovereign equality of nations, the Philippines and India are natural partners in the pursuit of their respective national development and security objectives.”
The two leaders also agreed to strengthen maritime security ties.
“As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian oceans, we affirmed our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains,” Duterte said.

BACKGROUND

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said ‘both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,’ and the two leaders ‘committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.’

He added that they also discussed “the most pressing concerns of our region and beyond, such as maritime security and economic integration.”
Following their meeting, they witnessed the signing of maritime, tourism, science, technology and cultural agreements.
Among them was a memorandum of understanding between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Indian Navy to enhance maritime security by sharing information on nonmilitary and nongovernment shipping vessels between the two countries.
“With the signing of bilateral agreements, we have likewise widened the path toward enhancement of our engagement in maritime security, science and technology, tourism and cultural cooperation,” Duterte said.
“We hope to look back on this day as a milestone in our relations, the day when we set out to turn promise into reality, and potential into concrete benefits that bring the greatest positive impact on the lives of our peoples.”