TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis agreed in their telephone talks Thursday to strengthen pressure on North Korea “in a visible manner,” following Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launch over Japan earlier this week.
Regarding the “visible” pressure, Onodera indicated the possibility of bolstering Japan-U.S. military drills, referring to joint training conducted by the U.S. military and the Self-Defense Forces.
The defense chiefs’ telephone talks came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump “completely agreed” on their next moves to tackle the threat posed by North Korea in a teleconference late Wednesday night Japan time. Abe did not reveal the forthcoming response.
The two leaders spoke over the phone for the second consecutive day after the North fired a ballistic missile Tuesday that flew over Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido and dropped into the Pacific Ocean.
Onodera also told reporters that during his conversation with Mattis he sought U.S. technical cooperation for Japan to acquire a land-based Aegis missile defense system known as Aegis Ashore.
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 told reporters.
Following Pyongyang’s latest provocative act, 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 such launches or nuclear tests.