Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono, visiting the present chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Singapore, called for maximizing pressure on North Korea, fully implementing the UN Security Council sanctions to halt its missile and nuclear weapons programs.
Talking to Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Kono stressed that it was important not to let Pyongyang evade sanctions by transferring petroleum products between vessels at sea, offering Japanese assistance in preventing it.
Commenting on the visit, Toshihide Ando, deputy press secretary at Japan's foreign affairs ministry also warned not to be "blinded by North Korea's charm offensive."
Before Singapore, the Japanese official voiced a similar warning in Brunei, stating that the latest development can undermine trilateral co-operation with the US, he promised "Without being swayed by smile-diplomacy, Japan will firmly coordinate with (the United States and South Korea) toward the ultimate goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula."
Meanwhile US Vice President Mike Pence, who visited the Olympics and met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in during, confirmed that the two countries had agreed on terms for further diplomatic engagement with North Korea, first with Seoul before potentially leading to direct talks with Washington. However, he told the Washington Post that "The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization. So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify".