Only a week in office and Japan’s newly appointed Prime Minister faces his first international crisis. Shinzo Abe has been swift to condem North Korea, describing its planned nuclear test as “regrettable”. Abe is due to visit China within the next few days, ostensibly to repair ties frayed by feuds over their wartime past. But the prospect of nuclear activity so close to home is likely to top the agenda.
The Japanese public have voiced their concerns over the situation. One woman said: “all the world disapproves of nuclear testing and yet North Korea still wants to go ahead with it….It’s absolutely inadmissible”.
One man said that North Korea, being a closed country, means it’s difficult to have friendly ties….we live in different fields and we think differently too….”.
China’s reaction has been more muted. Being the nearest thing North Korea has to an ally, Beijing has called for calm and urged restraint. When asked, one resident speculated that as North Korea is a neighbour of China, the fact that it has a nuclear weapon may be helpful to China at a future time of tension, but all the same, she said that it was really hard for China to express its position.
Although the US has called for the matter to be raised at the next meeting of UN’s security Council, China maintains that the issue should be handled by the group of six nations already engaged in talks over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.