The Yomiuri Shimbun Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Tuesday with U.S. President Donald Trump that the North Korean threat has “entered a new stage,” in a telephone conversation regarding Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches the previous day.
The two leaders also confirmed that Japan, the United States and South Korea would closely cooperate to urge a swift response at the U.N. Security Council and other venues, seeking to ratchet up pressure on North Korea.
The North’s state-owned Korean Central News Agency announced Tuesday that the missile launches were a drill by units to attack U.S. military bases in Japan.
“We confirmed that the missile launches by North Korea constitute clear violations of [U.N.] Security Council resolutions, posing an undeniable challenge to the region and the international community and that its threat has entered a new stage,” Abe told reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office following his talk with Trump.
The two leaders also agreed to hold a Security Consultative Committee — known as a two-plus-two meeting of both countries’ foreign and defense ministers — as soon as possible.
During the call on Tuesday morning, which lasted about 25 minutes, Trump said North Korea’s outrageous action was unacceptable and assured Abe that the United States stood by Japan “100 percent” on the issue. He asked Abe to trust him and the United States.
Trump also stressed that the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance was rock-solid, with the United States committed to Japan’s security, and affirmed that he would seek close coordination among Washington, Tokyo and Seoul at the United Nations and other institutions.
Referring to the North’s statement that the launches were a drill for striking U.S. bases in Japan, Abe said Pyongyang’s stance was “totally unacceptable.” The prime minister expressed his view that Tokyo and Washington should have the same strategic objectives, in line with the ongoing review of U.S. policy toward North Korea.
Both leaders discussed North Korea’s apparent improvement in missile technology, as four missiles were almost simultaneously fired in the latest incident. They agreed to increasingly press Beijing for cooperation as the North’s economy substantially depends on China.