US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived Sunday in Japan for talks to head off a nuclear crisis with North Korea following discussions with leaders in Beijing.
In Japan, Kerry is slated to meet with his counterpart, Fumio Kishida, to discuss ways to calm tensions with Pyongyang on the last stop of a multi-stop Asian tour.
The American leader spent the early part of the day visiting a 620-year-old Buddhist temple, and met with university students to discuss their views on global issues, including the United States.
Kerry’s meeting with Japan’s foreign minister is not scheduled until later in the day.
The nation’s Transport Ministry has requested its aircraft to report to the U.S. military if they fly near the U.S. Army Kadena base in the Okinawa prefecture, according to a statement issued by the Kyodo News Agency. The notice was issued at the request of the USAF in Japan as a precaution due to the risk of a possible missile launch by North Korea.
Pyongyang warned Japan on Friday to “stop recklessly working to stage a comeback on Korea and depending on its American master,” according to state media.
Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Masaru Satu responded calmly that “Japan will not be pushed around by rhetoric of North Korea.”
Likewise, South Korea called on North Korea last Friday to engage in open talks. “We urge North Korea to cease its reckless behavior and to stop issuing threats,” said South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
On Friday, Kerry told North Korea in a separate statement to "tone down" its aggressive rhetoric and threats.
But as Kerry arrived in Tokyo, North Korea’s government responded to the invitation with scorn, in a statement issued via the state-run KCNA news agency. “If they have true intent for dialogue, they should drop the attitude of confrontation to begin with, not getting inveigled in wordplay. The possibility of dialogue entirely depends on their attitude,” KCNA reported.
Kerry met Saturday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, both of whom said Beijing would work with its international partners to hold North Korea accountable to its international agreements. China will also help restart the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.
The U.S. and China are calling on North Korea to refrain from confrontational actions, including missile launches, but are focusing on peaceful language.