Japan warns against trusting North Korea ‘too much’

Japan’s defence minister has urged the international community to keep sanctions and surveillance on North Korea, saying it has a history of reneging on agreements.

Mark Pence and Onodera.jpg

Image shows Mark Pence and Itsunori Onodera (Source: Aljazeera)

Itsunori Onodera said North Korea agreed to give up nuclear weapons as early as 1994, but has continued to develop them in secret and until last year threatened surrounding countries with a series of ballistic missile launches.

“In light of how North Korea has behaved in the past, I believe that it is important not to reward North Korea solely for agreeing to have a dialogue,” he said.

“We have seen history repeat, where North Korea would declare to denuclearise, thereby portraying itself as conciliatory and forthcoming, only to turn around to void all international efforts towards peace.”

The comments by Japan’s defence chief marked a sharp contrast with his South Korean counterpart, who said there was no reason to doubt the sincerity of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Song Young-moo said: “Just because we have been tricked by North Korea in the past doesn’t guarantee that we will be tricked in the future. If we believe that, we will never be able to negotiate with them and make peace with them.”

The South Korean defence minister said that if the talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons are successful, they could be compared with the 1989 Malta Summit between former President George H W Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, less than a month after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The Japanese and South Korean defence ministers were speaking at an international security conference in Singapore, which is set to host the landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un on June 12.