Japan vows to resolve N. Korea abduction issue: gov't paper

Japan is determined to resolve the issue of North Korea's abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s in collaboration with other members of the international community, according to the latest version of Japan's foreign policy guidelines released Friday.

The Diplomatic Bluebook for 2014 identifies North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile development as "the biggest risk factor of security" for Japan and East Asia, especially after Pyongyang launched two medium-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan last week and has threatened to conduct a "new form of nuclear test."

The bluebook says the regime of leader Kim Jong Un appears to have cemented power, pointing to the need to closely monitor developments in the country in the wake of the execution of Kim's once powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek in December.

The abductions are "a serious issue that not only involves Japan's sovereignty and the people's lives and safety but represents a universal issue for the international community as a whole because it violates basic human rights," it says.

"In cooperation with the international community, (Japan) will continue to do its best in addressing the issue," the bluebook says as Japan earlier this week resumed official talks with North Korea, the first since November 2012.

Japan officially lists 17 nationals as having been abducted by North Korea but suspects Pyongyang's involvement in other disappearances. Five of the 17 were repatriated in 2002.

The bluebook, compiled by the Foreign Ministry, is also critical of China's attempts to press its claim to the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Tokyo stresses the importance of improving relations with China but criticizes Beijing's "unilateral attempts to alter the status quo with force in the background" in the East China and South China seas because such action is incompatible with the existing order based on international law.

That includes China's unilateral declaration in November of an air defense identification zone over parts of the East China Sea, including the Senkaku Islands, and the repeated intrusions by Chinese patrol vessels into Japanese territorial waters around the islets.

The report also refers to Beijing's "extensive and rapid military buildup" financed by continually rising defense budgets that lack sufficient transparency.

"Japan will maintain its calm and firm stance (against China) with determination that it will firmly defend its territory, territorial waters and airspace," the report says, adding Tokyo will cooperate with the United States and other countries in demanding that China not escalate the situation.

The report criticizes China's declaration of the ADIZ for "unfairly violating" the freedom of flight over open seas that is guaranteed by the general principles of international law.

Beijing announced rules requiring aircraft entering the zone -- which covers an extensive area of the high seas separating China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan -- to file flight plans in advance and follow the instructions of Chinese controllers or face "defensive emergency measures."

The report, meanwhile, expresses Japan's eagerness to improve relations with South Korea and vows to increase efforts to try to build a "future-oriented and multi-layered" cooperative relationship from a broad perspective.

However, it acknowledges differences exist between the two countries, including the issues of Korean women who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers before and during World War II, and a pair of Seoul-held but Tokyo-claimed islets in the Sea of Japan.

As for Japan's relations with the United States, the bluebook says the bilateral alliance is the linchpin of Japan's diplomacy and security, and the alliance "is becoming even more important" as the Asia-Pacific region faces various challenges and its security environment has become increasingly severe.

Tokyo welcomes Washington's strategic rebalance to Asia and the Pacific as it significantly contributes to regional security and prosperity, it says.