The Yomiuri ShimbunDefense Minister Itsunori Onodera and visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met in Tokyo on Friday and agreed to cooperate to achieve the complete denuclearization of North Korea and steadily carry out Japan-U.S. joint exercises.
During the talks at the Defense Ministry, the two vowed that Japan and the United States would work with the international community to realize North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of all ranges.
Friday’s meeting is their fifth talk and the first since the June 12 U.S.-North Korea summit.
At a joint press conference after the talks, Mattis emphasized that Tokyo and Washington shared the goal of dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.
During the meeting, Mattis reiterated the U.S. resolution to defend Japan. The two also confirmed their countries will steadily conduct Japan-U.S. joint drills and strengthen the deterrent power and emergency management ability of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The two also agreed to cooperate with other countries that are willing to support their efforts to deter a ship-to-ship transfer scheme by which North Korean vessels smuggle banned goods at sea.
Mattis also expressed Washington’s intention to cooperate with Japan to solve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.
Regarding a planned suspension of U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises in August, Mattis described it as a decision to increase the prospect for diplomats to strongly negotiate and bring about a peaceful solution on the Korean Peninsula. Onodera showed his understanding of the explanation. Mattis also told Onodera that Washington will keep U.S. troops in South Korea.
The U.S. defense secretary also explained to his counterpart about the issues discussed at Wednesday’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and the results of the talks. Mattis and Onodera then exchanged opinions about China’s maritime expansion in the East and South China seas.
They also reaffirmed that the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture are subject to Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, which obliges the United States to defend Japan.
Mattis met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Prime Minister’s Office later in the day.Speech