The Daily Manila Shimbun


Japan, US facing need to coordinate N. Korea strategies

August 19, 2017

WASHINGTON- While affirming a policy of strengthening the their alliance to counter mounting threats from North Korea, Japan and the United States may need to narrow their differences over strategies toward the reclusive state, including possible military action and dialogue, analysts say.

In a so-called "two-plus-two" security consultative committee meeting between their foreign and defense ministers held in Washington on Thursday, the United States reassured Japan over its nuclear umbrella at a time when North Korea is repeating its provocations.

"Japan intends to expand its role in the alliance," said a joint statement issued after the meeting, the first such talks since US President Donald Trump took office in January.

"The ministers condemned in the strongest terms North Korea's recurring provocations and development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities," the statement said, following Pyongyang's recent threat to fire intercontinental ballistic missiles over western Japan into waters near the US Pacific territory of Guam.

It stressed that "the ministers also reaffirmed the alliance's commitment to the security of Japan through the full range of capabilities, including US nuclear forces."

"This is a very strong message to North Korea that the United States is resolved to block Pyongyang from attacking Japan in any circumstances," a Japanese government official said.

But the Japanese and US foreign and defense ministers showed somewhat different approaches on handling North Korean, which is promoting its nuclear and missile development programs despite calls for restraints from the international community.

"There are strong military consequences if DPRK initiates hostilities," US Defense Secretary James Mattis said at a joint press conference held after the security meeting. DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

"We're prepared militarily, we're prepared with our allies to respond if that is necessary," US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

Mattis and Tillerson apparently aimed to increase pressure on North Korea by highlighting the United States' overwhelming military power, analysts said.

But Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at the press conference held back from referring to possible military action by the United States against North Korea. Jiji Press