Japan Times said the Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono has urged Singaporean counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan on Monday to see that sanctions against North Korea are implemented.
Kono told reporters that he offered Japanese assistance in preventing “Southeast Asian nations from becoming a loophole” in the sanctions.
The U.N. Security Council sanctions are in place to put halt Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons programs and it involves transferring petroleum products between vessels at sea.
Seeking Singapore’s understanding and cooperation, Kono said the North would continue to pursue nuclear missiles despite its conciliatory moves at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
He also said he was looking forward to working closely with Singapore, since the island-state chairs the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) this year.
The “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy being pursued by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, namely through improving maritime security functions and building infrastructure to support the maintenance of rules-based order at sea, was also discussed.
Under this strategy, Japan wants to ensure order in a vast area stretching from East Asia to Africa in an apparent bid to counter China’s rising clout in the region.
He also pitched Japanese technology for a high-speed rail project aimed at linking Singapore to Malaysia that is expected to start sometime around 2026. A qualified bidder is to be selected by the end of this year.
Kono, who went to Singapore following a visit to Brunei on Sunday, also met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
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