Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with US President Donald Trump on Monday and agreed on the need for more action on North Korea just hours after the US Ambassador to the United Nations said Washington is “done talking about North Korea”.
Mr Abe said that Mr Trump would take “all necessary measures” to protect US allies against the increasing threat from the hermit state.
Mr Abe told reporters after his conversation with Trump that repeated efforts by the international community to find a peaceful solution to the North Korean issue had yet to bear fruit in the face of Pyongyang’s unilateral “escalation”.
“International society, including Russia and China, need to take this seriously and increase pressure,” Mr Abe said. He said Japan and the United States would take steps towards concrete action but did not give details.
Mr Abe and Mr Trump did not discuss military action against North Korea, nor what would constitute the crossing of a “red line” by Pyongyang, Deputy Chief Cabinet spokesman Koichi Hagiuda told reporters.
A White House statement after the phone call said the two leaders “agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries near and far”.
It said Mr Trump “reaffirmed our ironclad commitment” to defend Japan and South Korea from any attack, “using the full range of United States capabilities”.
Graphic: North Korea missile launch
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the talk between Abe and Trump lasted for about 50 minutes.
“The role that China can play is extremely important,” he told a news conference.
“Japan intends to call on those countries involved – including the UN, the United States and South Korea to start, but also China and Russia – to take on additional duties and actions to increase pressure,” Mr Suga said, declining to give details about what those steps might be.
Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, said in a statement China must decide if it is willing to back imposing stronger U.N. sanctions on North Korea over Friday night’s long-range missile test, the North’s second this month.
Any new UN Security Council resolution “that does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea is of no value”, Haley said, adding that Japan and South Korea also needed to do more.