Japan urges cooperation with ASEAN on N Korea, environment


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday urged other Asian countries to step up cooperation on enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea and on environmental issues.

At summit talks in Singapore, Abe called on China, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to ramp up efforts to prevent North Korea from skirting the sanctions through illicit ship-to-ship transfers, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

While hoping thorough implementation of the sanctions will compel Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapon and ballistic missile programs, the Japanese premier expressed his intention to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the ministry.

Singapore was the setting for a historic meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in June. The meeting marked a thaw in relations and sparked hopes of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, though negotiations have produced few tangible results so far. Trump is planning to have a second meeting with the North Korean leader.

Japan also offered to help address ocean pollution by reducing plastic debris. Japan, together with China and South Korea, will assist the 10 ASEAN countries in enhancing their monitoring of plastic waste and assessing the impact on the marine ecosystem through research, according to an action plan presented at the summit.

The massive amount of marine plastic waste has become a serious global issue. Small plastic debris is hard to retrieve and the full impact of it on the environment has yet to be fully determined.

Abe stressed the importance of unity among the ASEAN plus three group so "strong momentum" will be generated to resolve global challenges.

The ASEAN countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Lee Hsien Loong, the prime minister of Singapore which holds the rotating ASEAN chairmanship, said the region is in an "unpredictable strategic landscape."

"Major power rivalry is on the rise, manifesting itself in competing visions for the regional architecture and in a growing trade war," Lee said at the summit.


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