The foreign ministers of China, Japan and South Korea criticized North Korea’s latest submarine missile test on Wednesday during their annual talks that were held amid lingering frictions over territorial disputes and wartime history. Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who chaired the meeting with China’s Wang Yi and South Korea’s Yun Byung-se, said that North Korea’s missile launch “provocation that simply cannot be tolerated.”
North Korea fired a ballistic missile from a submarine into the Sea of Japan, South Korean and US officials said. Seoul officials condemned the launch as an ‘armed protest’ against the start of annual South Korean-US military drills that North Korean calls an invasion rehearsal. The launch was also the latest in a series of missile, rocket and other weapon tests by North Korea, which is openly pushing to acquire a reliable weapon capable striking targets as far away as the continental US.
Kishida said Tokyo lodged a protest to the North over the missile, and urged his counterparts to step up cooperation as they face the latest development. “I hope to coordinate closely in order for Japan, China and South Korea to lead the efforts of the international community,” he said.
Yun said that North Korea’s repeated missile tests this year “demonstrated a rapid advancement of capability” and that he shared the concern over the ‘urgent situation’ with his counterparts. He said the three countries should show unity in tackling the problem. Wang said the three neighbors, despite problems and difficulties among them, should work together to deal with regional threats like North Korea’s missile and nuclear ambitions.
“China opposes North Korea’s nuclear and missile process, actions that cause tension on the Korean Peninsula,” Wang said in a joint news conference. The three countries have quarreled on a number of issues, and their foreign ministers’ meetings resumed only last year after a two-year hiatus because of strained Chinese-Japanese relations.