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Monday, April 17, 2017, 17:55

Abe: Japan planning for refugees in event of Korean crisis

By Associated Press
Abe: Japan planning for refugees in event of Korean crisis
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks in front of a line of microphones at a parliamentary panel on national security and diplomacy at parliament's upper house in Tokyo, April 13, 2017. (Yoshinobu Shimizu/Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday that Japan's government is drawing up contingency plans in case a crisis on the Korean Peninsula sends an influx of refugees to Japan.

Needless to say, diplomatic effort is important to maintain peace. But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister, Japan

Abe told a parliamentary session that the government is formulating measures including protecting foreigners, landing procedures, building and operating shelters, and screening asylum seekers.

Abe's disclosure came in response to a question that had been occasionally asked in the past but is now more realistic than ever with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s missile capability rapidly advancing and tension with the US rising.

The government has been also working on evacuation plans for about 60,000 Japanese from the Republic of Korea (ROK) in case of a crisis.

Abe said at the parliamentary session: "Needless to say, diplomatic effort is important to maintain peace. But dialogue for the sake of having dialogue is meaningless."

"We need to apply pressure on North Korea so they seriously respond to a dialogue" with the international community, he said, urging China and Russia to play more constructive roles on the issue.

Later Monday, key ministers of Abe's National Security Council (NSC) met to analyze the latest development in the DPRK and discuss Japanese responses, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, who attended the meeting, without elaborating further.

On Friday, the NSC members discussed how to deal with a possibility that armed DPRK soldiers pretending to be refugees may try to enter Japan, Kyodo News reported.

According to one scenario, a US military action sends a massive number of DPRK refugees to the Japanese coast in boats, but some armed soldiers hiding among them could plot terrorist activities after landing, Kyodo said.

Japan's government is considering dispatching commercial or military aircraft and vessels to the ROK in case Japanese nationals need to be evacuated. But critics say sending military aircraft and vessels is a sensitive issue for the ROK because of its bitter memories from the Japanese military aggression and colonization in the first half of 1900s.

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