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Japan condemns N. Korea's 6th nuclear test, calls for int'l action

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned North Korea's sixth
nuclear test on Sunday, calling for the international community to
"show a strong will to protect world peace" at the United Nations.

But while slamming North Korea's action, Japanese officials also
sought to assess Pyongyang's claim that it had successfully tested a
hydrogen bomb, amid indications that the country had detonated its
most powerful nuclear weapon yet.

"Whether or not we can stop North Korea's acts that threaten
world peace depends on the coordination and unity of the
international community," Abe said at his office after a second
meeting of the National Security Council following the test.

"We are taking resolute action in coordination with the United
States and South Korea, as well as China, Russia and the rest of the
international community," he said.

Pyongyang announced on Sunday afternoon it had successfully
tested a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on an intercontinental
ballistic missile. The blast showed up as unnatural seismic activity
shortly after noon Japan time, sending officials scrambling to assess
the situation and come up with responses.

North Korea previously conducted a nuclear test in September
last year and has continued to launch ballistic missiles in the
interim, including two intercontinental ballistic missiles into the
Sea of Japan in July and a missile that flew over northern Japan into
the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday.

The government's top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary
Yoshihide Suga, said Japan "cannot rule out the possibility" North
Korea has tested a hydrogen bomb as claimed.

Speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Taro Kono condemned the
test as another indication of Pyongyang's lack of intention to engage
in dialogue with other countries. He said Japan had criticized
Pyongyang "in the strongest terms" in a protest lodged through
diplomatic channels in Beijing.

Kono said Japanese officials are already talking to the United
States and South Korea about calling an emergency meeting of the U.N.
Security Council. Kono later held telephone talks with his South
Korean counterpart, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha.

Japan and South Korea agreed to "put maximum pressure" on North
Korea as "now is not the time for talks," Kono told reporters
following the telephone conversation.

Kono added Tokyo will work with Washington and others to urge
the stringent implementation of existing U.N. Security Council
sanctions resolutions on North Korea and consider pursuing the
adoption of a new, stricter resolution.

By bolstering pressure on Pyongyang, Japan, the United States
and South Korea will try to achieve "the denuclearization on the
Korean Peninsula," Kono said, expressing hope that China, believed to
have an influence over Pyongyang, will follow suit.

Imposing restrictions on the North's crude oil and oil product
trade is "one of the options" Japan might seek, Suga said earlier.
But it would require the agreement of China and Russia, the permanent
members of the Security Council with economic ties to Pyongyang.

Kono also held a telephone conversation with EU foreign policy
chief Federica Mogherini and met with U.S. Ambassador to Japan
William Hagerty.

Hagerty told Kono that North Korean actions would not undermine
the U.S. security and defense commitment to Japan and the region.
Their meeting was partially open to the media.

After the meeting, Hagerty told reporters that other Security
Council members would cooperate with the United States and Japan to
show the nuclear test was "a serious miscalculation on the part of
the North Korean regime."

Meanwhile, Shotaro Yachi, head of the secretariat of Japan's
National Security Council, and H.R. McMaster, U.S. national security
adviser, agreed in a telephone call that the test absolutely could
not be tolerated.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking to reporters, said
the blast was far more powerful than North Korea's earlier tests,
releasing at least 10 times the energy observed in the previous test
in September last year.

He said the magnitude-6.1 shaking measured by the Japan
Meteorological Agency, compared with the last test's 5.3, indicated
the weapon involved in Sunday's test was likely of "significantly
large capacity," while adding further analysis was needed to
determine if it was a hydrogen bomb.

Onodera said data from the Preparatory Commission for the
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which estimated
the magnitude of the shaking at 5.8, suggested the bomb had a yield
of around 70 kilotons.

"We have no choice but to judge that (the test) was a success,"
Onodera said.

Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano, chief of the Japanese Self-Defense
Forces Joint Staff, and Lt. Gen. Jerry Martinez, commander of U.S.
Forces Japan, agreed in a phone call to work together to gather
information about the test, Onodera added.

According to Suga, three T-4 trainer jets from the Air
Self-Defense Force have returned from flights to collect dust and
check for radiation in the air around Japan, and their samples will
be analyzed.

A C-130 transport plane is expected to check for radioactive
isotopes of noble gases in the air at a later time, he said.

But Suga stressed that the risk of radioactive material being
released into the air from underground nuclear tests is "generally
low."

He said radiation monitoring posts around the country have not
picked up anything unusual.

North Korea said earlier Sunday it has successfully produced a
hydrogen bomb to be loaded on a newly developed ICBM, amid growing
fears over its rapid progress in upgrading its weapons and the
possibility of another nuclear test.

After that announcement but before detection of the test, Abe
and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed in telephone talks to put
further pressure on North Korea and "make it change its policies."
(Sept. 3)