U.S. defense chiefs agree to press N. Korea in visible manner
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said he agreed with
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in telephone talks Thursday to add
pressure on North Korea in a "visible" manner in the wake of
Pyongyang's ballistic missile launch over Japan earlier this week.
Following their agreement, U.S. B-1B bombers and F-35B fighters
conducted an exercise with Japan's Air Self-Defense Force fighters in
southwestern Japan before heading to the Korean Peninsula to conduct
a drill with South Korea, the ASDF said.
The talks involving the defense chiefs were the latest in a
series of telephone conversations held between the two countries that
have highlighted the need to pressure North Korea to stop the country
from continuing its provocative actions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald
Trump held telephone talks on two consecutive days after North Korea
fired a ballistic missile Tuesday that flew over Japan's northernmost
island of Hokkaido and dropped into the Pacific Ocean.
Speaking to reporters, Onodera said he told Mattis that the
latest test-firing of the North Korean missile posed "a serious
threat that is different from past levels."
He also said visible pressure against North Korea means "closer
coordination" between Japan and the United States such as through
joint exercises, while adding that he sought cooperation from Mattis
toward acquiring the land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense system
from the United States.
Mattis reiterated the U.S. position that it is committed to
Japan's defense, which includes nuclear deterrence offered for
protection, according to Onodera.
The Japan-U.S. aerial exercise was conducted around the Kyushu
region and involved two ASDF's F-15 fighters, two U.S. Air Force's
B-1 bombers and four U.S. Marines' F-35 stealth fighters, an ASDF
In a separate teleconference, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro
Kono and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed cooperation
to seek fresh U.N. Security Council sanctions against the North, Kono
Following Pyongyang's latest missile launch, the U.N. Security
Council unanimously adopted a presidential statement Tuesday
condemning North Korea's firing of the missile over Japan as an
"outrageous" threat and demanding Pyongyang conduct no more
launches or nuclear tests. (Aug. 31)