Kishida, Kerry urge N. Korea to drop N-test

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and new US Secretary of State John Kerry

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and new US Secretary of State John Kerry agreed during telephone talks late Sunday to strengthen bilateral cooperation as they seek to stop North Korea from conducting a nuclear test.

During their 30-minute talks, Kishida and Kerry agreed Pyongyang must understand that it will face "significant consequences" from the international community if it continues its provocative behaviour. North Korea has threatened to conduct a nuclear test in response to UN sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's missile launch in December.

Kerry also talked with South Korean foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan on the phone and confirmed both nations would work closely on North Korea.

The talks were aimed at beefing up the trilateral coalition between Tokyo, Washington and Seoul against North Korea.

The diplomatic chiefs' warning of "significant consequences" appeared to indicate they will seek additional sanctions on North Korea based on a UN Security Council resolution if that country goes ahead with the nuclear test, which would be its third.

The talks, held soon after Kerry took up his post Friday, were aimed at emphasizing close Japan-US cooperation, a senior Foreign Ministry official said. They apparently intended their talks to be a strong warning to North Korea.

Kishida reportedly told Kerry that the Japan-US alliance remains the foundation of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, and that he hoped to strengthen the alliance because the region's security environment is becoming increasingly severe. This was a reference to North Korea's missile and nuclear programs, and China's growing military and expanded maritime activities.

Kerry agreed with Kishida and expressed his appreciation for the roles Japan has played in regional and global issues.

The two also discussed Japan's possible participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks and the planned relocation of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

Kishida told Kerry that the government would continue efforts from a broad perspective to mend ties with China, which have been strained over the Senkaku Islands.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to visit the United States in late February. Kishida and Kerry agreed to work closely to prepare for a summit meeting between Abe and President Barack Obama.

At the beginning of their talks, Kishida reportedly congratulated Kerry on his appointment. They also agreed to hold face-to-face talks as soon as possible.

Become a fan on Facebook