United Nations

Japan rounds out UN Security Council term as president for meeting on N Korea’s missile launch

On December 15, a ministerial-level meeting is expected to be held on the North’s non-proliferation activities

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 10:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 December, 2017, 10:05pm

With one month of its two-year UN Security Council term remaining, Japan took up the rotating presidency on Friday ahead of a series of meetings to discuss the situation in North Korea.

On December 15, a ministerial-level meeting is expected to be held on the North’s non-proliferation activities, which is to be presided over by Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono, Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations Koro Bessho explained.

Among the high-ranking officials who are expected to attend the event are US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as well as other foreign ministers and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

“This week we had the long range missile, ICBM launch, which again gathered the attention of the world and we feel that it needs to be discussed,” Bessho said at a news conference.

The open meeting will take place with special relevance in light of the launch Pyongyang carried out on Wednesday local time. The isolated state claimed the intercontinental ballistic missile was its “most powerful” yet, capable of hitting anywhere in the United States with a nuclear warhead.

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On the heels of Wednesday’s emergency Security Council session on the test-firing, however, he could not offer new details on what the council may decide to do to in response.

North Korea under previous sanctions resolutions is banned from conducting such tests but has continued to fire off a succession of missiles, some of which have flown over Japan, and conducted its sixth nuclear test in September.

Against that backdrop, the Japanese envoy pointed out how the international community’s awareness about the prohibited activities had been heightened.

“We are as a council working towards the way in which, the peaceful way, of putting pressure on North Korea, so that they would change their policy,” he said. “It is not just condemning them.”

Also on the table is a meeting on December 11 to address the worrying humanitarian situation in North Korea as has been the past council practice for the last several years.

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Bessho emphasised the importance of linking the human rights concerns to the security threats that are impacting the people there, as well as the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

Amid concerns about the tenuous situation that has been exacerbated by heated exchanges between US President Donald Trump and North Korean officials could lead to a military path, Bessho stressed that changing the North’s policy is the point of emphasis.

“We feel very strong that it (the North’s nuclear development) needs to be stopped and we are obviously not looking for a military solution ourselves,” he said.

“We are trying in the Security Council to find a way to make (North Korea) change its policy and that is a role we play here and that is the role that I will be playing as president of the Security Council.”

Japan, which has served a record 11 times as a two-year nonpermanent Security Council seat holder, ends its term on December 31 and will be replaced by Kuwait as a representative of the Asia-Pacific region.