The Daily Manila Shimbun


US reassures Japan on nuclear umbrella in 1st 2-plus-2 under Trump

August 18, 2017

WASHINGTON- The United States reassured Japan Thursday on its nuclear umbrella at their first "two-plus-two" ministerial security talks since US President Donald Trump took office in January, amid heightened international tensions over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

A joint statement released after the Washington meeting among the two nations' foreign and defense ministers said that they "reaffirmed the (bilateral) alliance's commitment to the security of Japan through the full range of capabilities, including US nuclear forces," underscoring the significance of the US nuclear deterrent as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump did during their meeting in February.

In the statement, the ministers "condemned in the strongest terms North Korea's recurring provocations and development of nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, which have entered a new phase, and pose an increasing threat to regional and international peace and stability."

They also vowed to bolster the alliance's capabilities to "deter and respond to these threats" while "continuing to pressure North Korea, in cooperation with other countries, to compel it to take concrete actions to end its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

The ministers reaffirmed "the critical role" that US extended deterrence plays in ensuring the security of Japan as well as the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

The Japan-US security talks followed North Korea's recent announcement of a plan to simultaneously fire multiple ballistic missiles over Japan into waters near the US Pacific island of Guam.

The two-plus-two session, the first since April 2015, was attended by Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who both took office earlier in the month in a shake-up of the Abe cabinet, from Tokyo and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis from Washington.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, Kono said that the ministers agreed to increase effective pressure on North Korea to denuclearize the reclusive country.

Commenting on the latest missile threat, Mattis stressed that Pyongyang would face "strong military consequences" if it "initiates hostilities."

If North Korea launches a missile toward Japan, Guam, the United States or South Korea, "we would take immediate, specific actions to take it down," he said.

Tillerson said Washington "will continue to employ diplomatic and economic pressure to convince North Korea to end its illegal nuclear and ballistic missile program."

After the UN Security Council adopted a new resolution with tougher sanctions on North Korea on Aug. 5, the Japanese and US ministers in the joint statement called on the international community to "comprehensively and thoroughly implement" the new and earlier Security Council resolutions against the reclusive country and strongly encouraged China to "take decisive measures to urge North Korea to change its course of action."

In response to China's expansionist moves at sea, the joint statement reconfirmed that the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, also claimed by China, are covered by Article 5 of the Japan-US security treaty, which stipulates the United States' obligations to defend the Asian ally. Jiji Press