Japan can count on German solidarity in the face of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Tuesday, as North Korea stepped up its saber-rattling.
“There is a clear message from the government of our country… that Japan can count on solidarity and other peaceful countries can count on that solidarity,” Westerwelle told journalists in The Hague.
“It is very important that we send a clear message,” Westerwelle said at the end of a meeting of officials from the 10-country Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) bloc.
“We strongly urge the leadership in Pyongyang not to inflame the conflict on the Korean peninsula,” he said after the meeting between senior officials including from Australia, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Turkey, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
Australia and Japan established the initiative in 2010 which aims to get all countries to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty and rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Japan said Tuesday it has deployed Patriot missiles in Tokyo in an effort to defend itself against any possible nuclear attack from North Korea.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters the world needed to send a “very strong message” to Pyongyang that it should urge restraint “rather than repeat violent rhetoric.”
Kishida echoed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s earlier statement in Japan, saying “we will make preparations for any unforeseen contingencies… to ensure that we protect the safety and the integrity of all our citizens.”
North Korea’s bellicose rhetoric has reached fever pitch in recent weeks, with near-daily threats of attacks on U.S. military bases including in Japan and South Korea in response to ongoing South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
North Korea said Tuesday the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war and advised foreigners in South Korea to consider evacuation—a warning that was largely greeted with indifference.