US President Donald Trump has said that America stands with Japan against the North Korean “menace” during a news conference in Tokyo. President Trump reiterated his notion that “era of strategic patience” was over, and that the two countries were working to counter the “dangerous aggressions” of the North Korean regime.
He said that Japan would shoot North Korean missiles “out of the sky” after completing purchases of US military equipment. Japan’s policy is that it would only shoot down a missile if it were falling on Japanese territory or if it were judged to pose an “existential threat” to Japan because it was aimed at a US target.
“Most importantly, we’re working to counter the dangerous aggressions of the regime in North Korea,” Trump said, calling Pyongyang’s nuclear tests and recent launches of ballistic missiles over Japan “a threat to the civilized world and to international peace and stability”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the same news conference that Japan backed Trump’s stance that “all options” are on the table when it comes to North Korea, saying the two countries were “100 percent” together on the issue.
Trump has previously exchanged fiery rhetoric with North Korea over its ballistic missile tests but aides said earlier this week that he would not visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border between the South and North. He is, however, to visit Camp Humphreys, a US military complex south of the capital, Seoul.
North Korea marked Trump’s arrival in Japan by warning the “spiritually unstable” president not to make “reckless remarks” about the regime in Pyongyang. The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ party, claimed that US voters were pushing for Trump’s impeachment out of fear he would bring “nuclear disaster” to the US mainland.
This comes after North Korea had accused America of attempting to “ignite a nuclear war” after two US strategic bomber planes carried out drills in the region on November 2. Pyongyang claimed the exercises, also involving South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, were a “surprise nuclear attack drill” simulating an attack on key North Korean targets.
A top Pentagon official reported in a letter to US lawmakers that a ground invasion in North Korea is the only way to locate and secure all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons sites “with complete certainty” in case of war. Rear Admiral Michael J. Dumont, the vice director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, wrote in the letter that Pentagon leaders “assess that North Korea may consider the use of biological weapons” against the invading force and that the country “has a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents.” Even calculating the best- or worst-case casualty estimates is challenging, he added. The Pentagon repeated that a detailed discussion of how the United States would respond to the threat could not be discussed in public.
North Korea has not launched any missiles since 15 September, the longest lull this year.
Military exercises of the South Korean Armed Forces: