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Japan’s PM backs Seoul’s demand to punish N Korea
Tokyo, MAY 31 (Agencies):
Published on 1 Jun. 2010 1:14 AM IST
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Japan’s Prime Minister told his Chinese counterpart on Monday that he strongly supports Seoul’s plans to bring North Korea before the UN Security Council for sanctions or condemnation for the alleged sinking of a South Korean warship, an official said.
Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama said North Korea should be punished over the warship sinking in accordance with international law, said Osamu Sakashita, a spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office.
During a weekend summit between South Korea, China and Japan on South Korea’s Jeju island, Wen didn’t appear ready to support possible action in the UN Security Council against North Korea, China’s longtime ally. But his closing remarks on Sunday seemed to signal that Beijing was becoming more engaged in the crisis.
China’s backing would be key because it wields veto power at the Security Council as a permanent member.
South Korea has taken punitive measures against the North since a team of international investigators said this month that a torpedo fired by a North Korean submarine tore apart and sank the warship Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. North Korea vehemently denies attacking the ship and has warned the South is risking war by attempting to punish it.
In their bilateral meeting on Monday in Tokyo, Hatoyama urged China to exercise self-restraint regarding activities by the Chinese navy in waters off Okinawa, Sakashita said.
In April, Chinese ships were spotted in international waters off Okinawa, and in another incident that month a Chinese helicopter also came within 300 feet (90 meters) of a Japanese military monitoring vessel in the vicinity of a Chinese naval exercise.
The two leaders agreed to set up a hot line to avert marine friction, and said they would launch talks aimed at forming a pact over gas exploration in the East China Sea, he said.
Wen turned his focus to the economy in a speech held later at the Japanese Business Federation, better known as Keidanren.
He warned that the global economy faces risks that could lead to another downturn. Unemployment remains high in the US, and sovereign debt concerns could derail Europe, he said in his lunchtime remarks.
“The global economy is recovering, but the process is slow,” he said. “There are a number of uncertainties and forces that could destabilise the situation.”
Meanwhile, China’s economy is headed toward another year of strong, steady growth, Wen said.
In 2009, China’s gross domestic product expanded 8.7 percent and is expected to surpass Japan’s economy in size sometime this year. Wen played down the significance of the looming milestone for China, which is the world’s most populous country. Japan’s per capita GDP of USD 40,000 a year remains far ahead of China’s per capital figure of USD 3,700.
Wen also noted the huge income disparities that remain in China between urban and rural, east and west.
“Our development goal is to become a middle-income economy,” he said. “That will take decades. To become an advanced economy will take more than 100 years.”

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