Japanese PM holds talks with Trump over North Korea

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe speaks with US President Trump, discusses how to handle growing threat.

Chana Roberts,

Abe and Trump
Abe and Trump

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump on Monday agreed to take "concrete steps" to "ensure public safety" after North Korea launched its second intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday.

During their 50-minute "in-depth exchange of opinions," the two agreed that China should apply greater pressure to rogue nuclear state.

According to a White House statement released after the Abe-Trump phone conversation, both leaders "agreed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and other countries near and far."

It also said Trump "reaffirmed" his country's "ironclad commitment" to defending Japan and South Korea from any attack, "using the full range of US capabilities."

However, according to Reuters, the Japanese government emphasized that no military action was discussed during the conversation.

According to Abe, North Korea has "unilaterally escalated the situation" and "the international community, including China and Russia, need to gravely accept such concrete facts.....and apply more pressure."

He and Trump also agreed that "further action" was needed and that they would take "all necessary measures to protect allies" against North Korea.

"Under the strong resolve of the US-Japan alliance, in order to further improve our defense posture and our capabilities, we will take concrete steps to do our utmost in ensuring the public' safety from the North Korean threat," Abe concluded.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized that "the role that China can play is extremely important."

Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Qian Keming said there is no connection between North Korea and China-US trade.

"We think the North Korea nuclear issue and China-US trade are issues that are in two completely different domains. They aren't related. They should not be discussed together," Qian said.

And an editorial in the Chinese state-run Global Times said, "Pyongyang is determined to develop its nuclear and missile program and does not care about military threats from the US and South Korea. How could Chinese sanctions change the situation?"

Meanwhile, North Korea's Foreign Minister in a statement called the US "imperial aggressor" and threatened nuclear war if the US took "foolish" action.

"The US should clearly understand the strategic position of [North Korea], which has become a world nuclear power … and and wake up from the foolish dream of doing any harm to [North Korea]," KCNA quoted the statement as saying.

"If the US fails to come to its own senses and continues to resort to military adventure and 'tough sanctions' then [North Korea] will respond with its resolute act of justice."

On Sunday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the "time for talk is over" and insisted China "must decide" whether it is willing to act. She also said there was "no value" in any solution which does not significantly increase the international pressure on North Korea.