Germany backs Japan and calls for calm in Korean crisis


Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera (R) listens to a commander of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile corps (L) at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo on April 10, 2013.


Toru Yamanaka

Germany voiced strong support for Japan on Wednesday, in a show of unity as tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula.

“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,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said after a Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative meeting held in The Hague.

“We strongly urge the leadership in Pyongyang not to inflame the conflict on the Korean Peninsula,” Westerwelle added.

Amid North Korea's saber-rattling there have been signs that it is preparing for an imminent mid-range missile test. On Wednesday, South Korean and US forces raised their North Korea alert status to "vital threat."

The North last week told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang they had until April 10 to consider evacuation, fueling speculation of a launch between Wednesday and April 15 birthday celebrations for late founder Kim Il Sung.

The North's Musudan ballistic missile has a range of about 2,174 miles — enough to reach the US military base in Guam. 

"According to intelligence obtained by our side and the US, the possibility of a missile launch by North Korea is very high," South Korea Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said Wednesday at a parliamentary hearing, Yonhap reported. He added that North Korea may fire a missile "at any time from now."

The Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative — established by Australia and Japan in 2010 — aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to include more nations within the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty framework.

The group strongly condemned North Korea’s underground nuclear bomb test on Feb. 12, saying it was an "extremely serious violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions."