Japan seeks US assurances that all of North Korea’s ballistic missiles will be removed
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reportedly plans to ask US President Donald Trump that any potential US deal with North Korea take into account Japan’s “security concerns,” including the removal of ballistic missiles of all ranges.
“Japan has repeatedly made clear that Japan is seeking complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of all the weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges; and Japan’s position has not yet changed,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told reporters on the condition of anonymity.
Trump is likely to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12. His enthusiasm to hold the meeting with Kim has reportedly prompted concerns in Tokyo that a hasty deal between the US and North Korea would leave Japan exposed to a perceived North Korean missile threat.
Abe is scheduled to meet Trump in Washington on Thursday to discuss North Korea.
The Japanese Foreign Ministry official said, “We think the US of course understands Japan’s position.”
But the demand that North Korea dismantle all of its ballistic missiles is unlikely to be met by Pyongyang, and the US is unlikely to offer any assurances for such a dismantlement. That could in turn result in frictions between Washington and Tokyo.
Pyongyang has already rejected a US demand that it end its nuclear program at one stage.
Japan also reportedly fears that Trump could eventually agree to reduce US military forces in South Korea, leaving Japan — which is highly dependent on US military protection since defeat in World War II — to fend for itself.
Japan has been anxiously watching ever since a thaw began first between Pyongyang and Seoul and then between North Korea and the US.
Trump suggested on Friday that the most tangible outcome of the June 12 summit could be the “signing of a document” to end the technical state of hostilities between the two Koreas. North and South Koreas fought a war that ended in 1953 with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the summit between Trump and Kim in Singapore. The White House announced on Tuesday that the meeting would be held on Singapore’s southern island of Sentosa.
VIP security measures are being taken on the Singaporean island, according to reports.