Japan said yesterday it will maintain sanctions on North Korea until Pyongyang gives up nuclear weapons development, despite its willingness to resume disarmament talks.
"The most important thing is that North Korea abandon all nuclear development" in accordance with UN Security Council demands, said chief Cabinet secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the government's top spokesman.
"Until we know whether this will be carried out, we will calmly carry out what we have decided,'' he said, referring to sanctions imposed after the North's Oct. 9 nuclear test.
North Korea announced earlier yesterday that it would return to the six-party talks on its nuclear disarmament. The talks have been stalled for a year.
Later in the day South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said in Moscow that the talks could resume this month, Russia's ITAR-Tass news agency reported.
The talks "may resume already in November, by the end of December at the latest," Ban said, according to ITAR-Tass.
Ban hailed Pyongyang's move as an "encouraging signal."
"I hope that we will find a solution to the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula," he was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told Ban during their Kremlin meeting earlier yesterday that Moscow was closely following the developments around the North's nuclear program, before reporters were whisked out of the room.
The Russian Foreign Ministry welcomed North Korea's announcement and called for the negotiations to resume as soon as possible. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow expects the talks to start shortly, adding that the date was still being discussed.
Japanese officials had also welcomed the North's announcement yesterday, but they said it was far from assured that the renewal of the talks would lead to the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
"This is truly pleasing," Foreign Minister Taro Aso told parliament.
"However, given that we still don't know what conditions are involved, it's not a matter where we can now be saying `great, great, now we can celebrate,'" he said.
Japan, which is within reach of North Korean missiles, has taken a hard-line against the reclusive regime since the nuclear test, banning all trade with Pyongyang, barring North Korean ships from its ports and taking other punitive measures.
Over the past year, North Korea has refused to resume the talks, demanding that the US first lift financial sanctions aimed at the North's alleged money laundering and counterfeiting.
Japan's approach toward North Korea has hardened with the election in September of Shinzo Abe as prime minister.
Abe has long been a champion of Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2002, he was a lead negotiator in winning the release of five of the victims. Pyongyang has admitted kidnapping eight others, but has said they are dead.
Human rights activists in Tokyo said the abduction issue is just one of several North Korean abuses that is being overshadowed by the nuclear standoff.
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged