The response to North Korea's claimed nuclear test could include military sanctions but Japan will not build its own nuclear arsenal, the government said Tuesday, as Tokyo considered how to punish the isolated communist regime.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Japan has no plans to contravene its pacifist constitution in response to Pyongyang's reported atomic test.
"We have no intention of changing our policy that possessing nuclear weapons is not our option," Abe told Parliament on Tuesday. "There will be no change in our non-nuclear arms principles."
Japan's constitution bars the use of force to settle international disputes, and Japan has maintained a policy of not producing, possessing or allowing in nuclear weapons.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki meanwhile suggested that military sanctions could be among the options considered at the United Nations, but he refused to provide any details of what the sanctions would involve.
"We will discuss sanctions at the U.N. Security Council," he said. "We are considering all possibilities. What kind of resolution it will be will be based on the results of the discussion at the Security Council. It is difficult to predict at this point."
Japanese Finance Minister Koji Omi, said Tokyo will consider imposing more financial sanctions on North Korea to protest its reported nuclear test on Monday.
"We cannot condone North Korea's nuclear explosion test. We will consider stepping up our financial sanctions against the country in tandem with other countries," Omi told a news conference.
Japan imposed limited sanctions in July including barring a North Korean trade ferry from Japanese ports after the North conducted missile tests. The Cabinet approved and imposed further financial sanctions in September.
Abe told a Cabinet meeting Tuesday morning that the government would seek quick action against the North at the United Nations, according to Shiozaki.
"We will seek a swift response at the U.N. Security Council in cooperation with the U.S. and the international community," Shiozaki quoted Abe as saying.
But Foreign Minister Taro Aso cautioned that Japan must be certain North Korea conducted a test before imposing more restrictions on the impoverished nation.
"I want absolute evidence that there was a nuclear test," Aso told reporters Tuesday.
Japan has been monitoring radiation levels around the nation and so far has detected no major changes, according to Taro Ide, an official at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.
Shiozaki on Monday said the public should not be concerned about radiation, citing Abe. The government was expected to present updated monitoring results Tuesday evening, reports AP.
Defense Agency said it dispatched three T-4 subsonic aircraft to the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula on Monday to collect air samples to be analyzed for radioactivity. More flights were scheduled later in the week.
Japan has over 100 nuclear monitoring stations across the country, according to Yasushi Morishita of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. He said radioactive fallout could take several days to reach Japan, depending on the weather.