Japan moves to update Korean crisis response

Friday, 14 April, 2017 - 19:45

The government has been working on plans to respond to a potential crisis on the Korean Peninsula.

Discussions in the National Security Council have so far included a plan to evacuate Japanese from South Korea and measures to address the risk of North Korean soldiers infiltrating Japan disguised as refugees, the sources said.

The government has also warned Japanese schools in South Korea to keep abreast of developments amid the climbing tensions, the education minister said Friday.

Tokyo now sees the urgency of updating its emergency response policy, originally drawn up in 1996 alongside a revision to the Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines.

Administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is appealing to all parties involved in the North Korea situation, promoting a doctrine of “dialogue and pressure” — i.e., urging China to use its influence on the reclusive state.

According to the sources, Abe called an NSC ministerial meeting on Feb. 23 after his summit with Trump in the United States earlier that month.

Abe instructed Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Kazuhiro Sugita and others to come up with crisis plans, having judged that increased U.S. pressure on North Korea could raise the possibility of unrest, the sources said.

The attendees at that meeting concluded that a crisis on the peninsula could lead to an influx of refugees along the Sea of Japan coast.

The government will prepare a humanitarian response and bolster security measures, the sources said.

To evacuate the 60,000 Japanese estimated to be in South Korea at any given time, discussions have focused on requesting help from the U.S. military in South Korea or dispatching Self-Defense Forces aircraft or ships to pick up evacuees with Seoul’s approval.

The ministerial meeting brought together Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.