Japan says this is a time to raise pressure on North Korea

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Japan called Monday for increased pressure on North Korea, saying this is not a time for dialogue.

Government spokesman Norio Maruyama said North Korea reached “a new level” with its latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile as Americans celebrated Independence Day on July 4.

The test marked a significant step toward the goal of North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong Un to develop a missile with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States. The ICBM reportedly landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, where previous North Korean ballistic missile launches have also landed.

Despite condemning the ICBM test, South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Monday offered talks with North Korea, indicating for the first time since his inauguration in May that he wants to use dialogue to defuse the international standoff over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

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Maruyama said the Japanese government is “aware of the announcement,” but made clear that immediate talks aren’t the approach it supports.

“This is not a time for dialogue, it’s a time for pressure,” he said.

Maruyama explained that raising pressure now is essential “in order to be able to conduct a serious dialogue” with North Korea in the future.

“Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless,” he stressed.

He reminded Seoul of the joint statement issued by Moon, U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after a meeting on the fringes of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 6 on a “common understanding” on how to deal with North Korea

The joint statement commits the three leaders to work together to counter the threat from North Korea and “to apply maximum pressure” on Pyongyang “to change its path, refrain from provocative and threatening actions, and take steps necessary to…

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