TOKYO – Japan pressed China Sunday to take a tough stance on North Korea, saying anything but a "strong" U.N. Security Council resolution in response to last month's nuclear test would send the wrong message to the reclusive communist country.
But China supported a "moderate and balanced" resolution, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.
Foreign ministers of Japan and China met on the sidelines of high-level talks held Sunday by the countries' economic ministers. Asia's top two economic powers agreed to strengthen cooperation in trade, technology and other areas.
Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone told his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, that the U.N. Security Council should quickly send a message to North Korea that its underground nuclear test was unacceptable.
Otherwise, Nakasone said, the U.N. would lose its authority and send a wrong message to the North, the official said. Nakasone said Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development is a threat to regional and international peace.
Nakasone told Yang that a tougher stance by China, which is North Korea's closest ally, would be important.
Yang did not comment publicly Sunday on North Korea.
China and four other veto-wielding Security Council nations, along with Japan and South Korea, are finishing closed-door negotiations on a resolution on North Korea, which conducted the nuclear test on May 25, following its first in 2006. Japan and the U.S. are proposing harsh punishment, with Washington threatening its own financial sanctions.
China is taking a milder approach. It criticized North Korea over its nuclear test and subsequent missile launches, but it has consistently rejected economic sanctions that could destabilize the North's government.
In their economic dialogue, Japan and China agreed to launch bilateral talks and cooperation in areas including climate change, energy conservation and technology, Nakasone and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan told a joint news conference.
China is Japan's largest trade partner, while Japan is a top investor in China.
The countries also agreed to discuss intellectual property rights — an area of concern for Japanese companies that have found their products, including cars and appliances, illegally copied and sold in China.
Japan opposes China's planned introduction of a new requirement for foreign companies to disclose data related to computer security software in products.