Japan’s prime minister has called for a peaceful resolution of tensions involving North Korea but also urged pressure on Pyongyang to force it to abandon its military nuclear program.
“It is a matter of paramount importance for us to seek diplomatic efforts as well as peaceable settlements of the issue,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday before a luncheon with the United States’ visiting Vice President Mike Pence in Tokyo.
“At the same time, dialog for the sake of dialog is valueless and (it) is necessary for us to exercise pressure,” he added, however.
Tensions have increasingly ratcheted up between North Korea and the US in recent weeks. The US has been unnerved by North Korea’s advancing missile and nuclear programs and has dispatched a military strike group to the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang has said it is ready for war.
The prospects of a potential military confrontation have concerned regional countries, including powerhouse China, and Japan, which has nevertheless been in the anti-Pyongyang camp.
Pence said Washington would work closely with Japan and its allies for a peaceful resolution of the tensions but threatened Pyongyang with military action.
“The era of strategic patience is over and while all options are on the table, President [Donald] Trump is determined to work closely with Japan, with South Korea, with all our allies in the region and with China to achieve a peaceable resolution and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said.
Pence arrived in Tokyo earlier in the day on the second leg of his Asian tour. He visited South Korea — another adversary of North Korea — earlier in the trip.
The remarks came a day after North Korea threatened the US with “all-out war” and announced that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles on a weekly basis.
Pyongyang believes its missile and nuclear programs act as deterrence against a potential invasion by its adversaries, particularly the US.
The US has military forces in South Korea on a permanent basis, and routinely threatens the North with military action.