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Japan Says Solid Security Needed To Counter North Korean Threat
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo courtesy AFP.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Yokosuka (AFP) Japan, March 18, 2007
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday a solid foundation of national security and strong ties with the US were the best ways for Japan to deal with any threat from North Korea. "We are facing many difficult issues, such as North Korea's abduction, nuclear development and the launch of ballistic missiles," he said in a speech at a National Defence Academy graduation ceremony. "We need to create a solid foundation of national security while further strengthening our alliance with the United States," he said.

Abe's speech was addressed to the National Defence Academy's first class graduating under the defence ministry, which was launched under the conservative premier's efforts to build a more assertive nation.

Japan in January elevated its defence agency to the first full-fledged defence ministry since World War II.

Abe, Japan's first premier to be born after the war, made the creation of a defence ministry one of his priorities. He also aims eventually to rewrite the US-imposed 1947 constitution.

Abe's speech came as envoys from six nations -- the two Koreas, China, the US, Japan and Russia -- are set to resume negotiations over Pyongyang's denuclearisation on Monday in Beijing.

Abe, who has championed a hardline North Korean policy, refused to fund a February 13 nuclear deal reached in the previous six-nation disarmament talks.

Pyongyang promised to begin shutting down its nuclear programme within two months in exchange for energy aid and diplomatic concessions.

earlier related report
NKorea denounces US-SKorea wargames
Seoul (AFP) March 18 - North Korea Sunday denounced an upcoming joint US-South Korea military exercise as aimed at poisoning six-party disarmament talks and bringing the Korean peninsula "to the brink of war".

"The US ruling quarter's moves to intensify war games in South Korea are aimed to poison the atmosphere of the talks and drive the situation of the Korean peninsula to the brink of war," the country's ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary.

The exercise also "goes against the six-party talks," it added.

The joint drills are due to begin on March 25, with hundreds of thousands of South Korean troops and some 29,000 US soldiers based here and abroad taking part, along with a US aircraft carrier backed by cruisers and destroyers.

South Korea and the United States have defended the annual exercise as being purely defensive.

The exercise is "a preliminary war, a nuclear test war, designed to make a surprise preemptive attack" on North Korea, the newspaper said.

"Their real intention is to while away the time with the six-party talks and ignite a war against the DPRK (North Korea) when a chance is given."

In a separate commentary late Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency hit out at Washington for carrying out the exercise while negotiations are under way with Pyongyang as part of the six-nation talks.

"Dialogue and war manoeuvres can never go together," it said.

North Korea is "fully prepared to deal merciless crushing blows at the aggressors, not forgetting the US arrogant nature even a moment," the agency said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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