Japan expressed support for U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision this week to cancel the planned summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, pledging that Tokyo intends to keep up pressure on the rogue regime over its nuclear and missiles programs.
On Friday, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono expressed “understanding” of the U.S. decision to cancel the meeting, saying, “It is meaningless to hold a summit if it does not bring about progress,” according to Kyodo News.
He noted that Japan would continue to push for North Korea’s “denuclearization and solve the abduction [of Japanese citizens] issues, Japan will closely work with the United States.”
Kyodo News reports:
While the cancellation of what would have been the first-ever summit between the two countries is “regrettable,” [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe told reporters in St. Petersburg that he respects Trump’s decision not to hold the meeting until progress on North Korea’s denuclearization and missile issues can be expected.
The prime minister made those comments while visiting Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.
Echoing the Trump administration, a top spokesman for the Japanese government vowed that Tokyo would maintain pressure on North Korea, which has proved to threaten the island nation directly.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters:
The important thing is not holding a meeting itself but becoming an opportunity to move toward the solution of the nuclear and missile issues as well as the abduction [of Japanese citizens] issue. Japan, the United States, and South Korea will continue to put pressure on North Korea to change its policy.
Suga noted that Japan would “remain vigilant and closely monitor the situation,” Kyodo News reported.
During a U.S. Senate panel hearing on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the Trump administration plans to keep up pressure on North Korea until it takes credible steps towards complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization.
Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters on Friday, “Japan will closely collaborate with the United States and South Korea to push North Korea to take concrete actions toward the complete abandonment of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.”
Citing Kim’s “tremendous anger and open hostility” in a letter to the dictator on Thursday, President Trump canceled the June 12 summit, which was expected to focus on the denuclearization of North Korea in exchange for sanctions relief.
The White House and Pompeo have also noted that, while the United States was ready for the meeting, North Korea failed to make adequate preparations for the unprecedented event.
Trump’s decision to cancel the meeting came a day after Pompeo told lawmakers the administration was prepared to “walk away” from anything short of denuclearization.
Pompeo’s warning came soon after North Korea threatened to cancel the meeting over military drills held by the United States and South Korea.
The Secretary of State noted Thursday and he and President Trump are “optimistic” a deal with North Korea remains possible.
The North Korean regime, in response to the cancellation, said it is “still willing to resolve issues with the United States whenever.”