Japan to seek assurance of U.S. defence pledge, including nuclear deterrence

Japan to seek assurance of U.S. defence pledge, including nuclear deterrence

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday said he read Steve Bannon's admission that there is no military solution to the crisis with North Korea.

The move came in response to North Korea's latest missile launches in July, which were described by both Pyongyang and the US and South Korea as intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (R) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson participate in a news conference after a meeting of the U.S. -Japan Security Consultative Committee at the State Department, on August 17, 2017 in Washington, DC.

"I think we have been quite clear as to what the policy and the posture towards North Korea is", he said.

Tillerson has not ruled out the possibility of holding talks with Pyongyang. "Our effort is to cause them to want to engage in talks but engage in talks with an understanding that these talks will lead to a different conclusion than talks of the past", he said.

Mr Mattis added that the USA would take immediate action to take down any missile launched toward the territory of its allies, with Mr Tillerson declaring that America would honour its defence treaty agreements with Japan "without reservation". Both sides have since dialed back the rhetoric somewhat.

The threat had come after US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang of "fire and fury" over intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) development.

As the top USA diplomat, Tillerson said Washington would continue diplomatic efforts "first and foremost", but "it is only prudent" that military action remains a choice.

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Tillerson and Mattis also used the opportunity to reiterate comments made by Chief of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford on Thursday, in which the Dunford stressed that the U.S. did have military options for dealing with North Korea.

The exercise was meant to improve interoperability and bolster combat skills, Japan's Air Self Defense Force said in a news release. The Japanese Defence Ministry wants to introduce a land-based Aegis missile defense system to address North Korea's missile threats and has chose to seek funding in the next fiscal year to cover the system design costs, a Japanese defense official told Reuters.

The demand for underground nuclear shelters has increased by 26 times in the wake of North Korea's advancements in missile and nuclear programs, Japan's Oribe Seiki Seisakusho shelter company's representative Nobuko Oribe told Sputnik.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Defense Ministry also hopes to increase its number of Aegis-equipped destroyers from four to five by the end of the year, accelerating a previous plan which aimed to boost the number by March 2018, according to NHK. He added the US and Japan will strengthen their bilateral alliance by enhancing cooperation with South Korea. The missiles would have to fly over Japan to reach their target, worrying Tokyo that warheads or missile debris could fall on its territory.

China has an important role in reining in North Korea, the officials said, with Tillerson stating that Beijing has cooperated with the global community in putting pressure on North Korea on a level unseen before. The drills involving tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops are due to begin on Monday.

Costs for the new land-based Aegis defense system will be included in the defense ministry's draft budget for next fiscal year, although the actual amount will be left blank until the end of the year, due to the need for further consultations with the USA, sources close to the matter said Thursday.

The drill took place in those four prefectures, plus the adjoining prefectures of Tottori, Okayama, Yamaguchi, Tokushima and Kagawa.

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