Defense minister: N. Korea has developed small nuclear warheads

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada speaks at a meeting of the House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense on Thursday.

North Korea has developed small nuclear warheads that can be carried by ballistic missiles, Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said at a security-related meeting convened in response to Pyongyang’s recent missile launches.

Hamada also revealed that he believes North Korea may be ready to conduct a nuclear test.

“It is believed that [North Korea] has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and warheads that can be mounted on ballistic missiles and used in an attack,” Hamada said at a House of Representatives committee meeting on Thursday.

At a meeting of the House of Councillors Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defense, Jiro Hata of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan expressed concern about whether Japan’s intention to lodge a protest over the missile launches had been conveyed to Pyongyang.

In response, Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said, “[The Japanese government] has made serious protests through diplomatic channels via the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.” However, Hayashi declined to discuss specific details.

The Diet was supposed to be effectively closed from Tuesday to Friday but the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accepted requests from the CDPJ and Nippon Ishin no Kai to hold debates in both chambers of the Diet on Thursday.

Amid such a situation, “it would have been undesirable for the committees to be out of action,” an LDP member said.