The United States does not want war with North Korea, the US Secretary of Defense said during his visit to the Korean Demilitarized Zone, as he warned Pyongyang to stop threatening “catastrophe” with its nuclear weapons.
James Mattis made the brief comments standing next to South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo on October 27, describing Kim Jong-un’s leadership as an “oppressive regime” that mistreats its people while its neighbour to the south offers a vibrant democracy.
“Our goal is not war but rather the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” Mattis was quoted as saying by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency at Panmunjom village.
Across the sea of Japan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised strong “counter-measures” against North Korea, after winning a decisive victory in October 22 election. Japanese Prime Minister had called an early election for a greater mandate to deal with “crises”, focusing on the growing threat from Pyongyang.
Shinzo Abe has previously called for the country’s armed forces to be formalized, a controversial move which he says is needed to strengthen Japan’s defense but which critics say is a step towards re-militarisation. Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) coalition with the Komeito party has won 313 of the 465 seats in the lower house of Japan’s parliamentary Diet – which gives them the power to table a revision to the constitution.
Tensions between North Korea and the US and its allies have risen sharply in recent weeks following a series of weapons tests by Pyongyang, including its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and two missile launches over Japan, a US ally.
Despite North Korean threats to shoot down American planes flying near the Korean Peninsula outside of the country’s airspace border, following a war of words between North Korean and US leaders, the US and South Korean planes are still conducting reconnaissance. The US are increasing their presence in the region, wary of the fact that the new missile developed by Pyongyang may be able to reach the US West Coast, according to russian lawmaker who returned from a visit to North Korea earlier this month.