Thursday, May 20, 2010

North Korea's sinking of a South Korean navy ship was "unforgivable"

TOKYO - Japan Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said May 20 that North Korea's sinking of a South Korean navy ship was "unforgivable" after an investigation concluded the communist regime was to blame.

"Our country strongly supports South Korea," he said in a statement read by his chief spokesman, Hirofumi Hirano. "The North Korean action is unforgivable, and we strongly condemn it, with the international community."

A multi-national investigation panel concluded May 20 that a North Korean submarine fired a torpedo that sank a South Korean warship with the loss of 46 lives on March 26 near the disputed maritime border.

North Korea denied responsibility, warning of "full-scale war" if new sanctions are imposed.

Hatoyama later told reporters that "if South Korea seeks a resolution at the U.N. Security Council, Japan should spearhead the move" against North Korea.

Any action against Pyongyang by the U.N. Security Council would require agreement from China, a veto-wielding council member and the North's ally, which has indicated it first wants to see strong evidence.

Japan Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada told reporters that "we would like China to take concerted action as much as possible... The evidence is objective and I think we can trust it. Japan strongly supports South Korea."

Hirano said the North Korean attack would complicate efforts to resume stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks grouping the two Koreas, Russia, China, Japan and the United States.

The North quit the dialogue in April last year and staged its second atomic weapons test a month later. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il vowed during a visit to China this month to try to revive the talks, Beijing media said.

The North Korean issue will be discussed when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Japan May 21 before heading to China and South Korea, and at a summit of Japan, China and South Korea at the end of the month.

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