Japan, US and South Korea reaffirm joint response to North Korean threat

Diplomats from the US, Japan and South Korea on Wednesday reaffirmed their commitment to working together in response to any threat from North Korea, including a possible new nuclear test.

The three senior diplomats in charge of North Korean affairs also highlighted their efforts to strengthen their security partnership. Japan and South Korea recognize the need to improve bilateral and trilateral cooperation. Relations between Japan and South Korea have suffered greatly due to historical disputes over Japanese colonization of the Korean Peninsula.

Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Bureau of Asian and Oceanic Affairs at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, said the focus of trilateral cooperation is North Korea and its accelerated development of nuclear and missile weapons.

Funakoshi said he and his US and South Korean counterparts Sung Kim and Kim Gunn were to discuss their countries’ responses to North Korea’s moves as they work together to bolster regional deterrence amid “the looming possibility of further provocations, including another nuclear test.”

North Korea last conducted its sixth nuclear test in 2017, and experts are seeing signs of preparations for another test.

Funakoshi also hailed a missile defense exercise conducted by the three countries off the coast of Hawaii last month.

Sun Kim, the US special envoy for North Korea, said the three countries are prepared for “every contingency … in response to (North Korea’s) provocations” and to protect allies in the region.

According to Sung Kim, their goal of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has not changed. “We remain committed to seeking dialogue with (North Korea) and are ready to meet without preconditions,” he said.

Kim Gunn, South Korea’s Special Representative for Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula, called for further efforts to ensure that sanctions against North Korea are fully implemented in line with UN Security Council resolutions.

AP video journalists Chisato Tanaka and Haruka Nuga contributed to this report.

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