Pence declares full support for Japan

During a 10-day trip around Asia, Vice President Mike Pence met with leaders in Japan on Tuesday.  After meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso discussed U.S.-Japan economic relations.

President Trump and Abe created a new forum for trade talks during the Abe’s trip to the U.S. in February, partly to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a regional trade pact Trump was loudly critical of before withdrawing from it after his inauguration. The move was a disappointment to Japan’s leaders.

Aso has stated that there is decreased trade friction and there is a “new era of cooperation.”

Following the meetings, Pence made a statement to the press.

“We appreciate the challenging times in which the people of Japan live with increasing provocations from across the Sea of Japan,” Pence said in reference to North Korea. “We are with you 100 percent.”

The statement comes after Pence traveled to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea on Monday.  While there, he had strong words for North Korea’s leaders.

“The era of strategic patience is over,” he said at the time. North Korea continues to test the U.S. and it’s allies, moving forward with its nuclear ambitions.

In an interview that aired Tuesday, North Korea’s Vice-Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol responded to the comment.

“We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” he said.  Han warns “all-out war” would break out if there were any military action against North Korea by the U.S.  “If the U.S. is planning a military attack against us, we will react with a nuclear pre-emptive strike by our own style and method,” he declared.

The U.S is working with Japan to halt North Korea’s nuclear program.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they also hope for peaceful dialogue with North Korean leaders in Pyongyang.  He is focused on action, though. “Dialogue for the sake of dialogue is valueless,” he said.

Durnig his remarks Tuesday, Pence said that the U.S. support of Japan “could not be stronger.”  He assured the Japanese leaders that he and President Trump believe Japan has the right to defend their security and prosperity.

Pence confirmed that the U.S will continue to seek “economic and diplomatic” solutions to the problem in North Korea, saying that along with our other Asian allies, the U.S. will put that type pressure on North Korea. Still, Pence clarified that “all options are on the table.”

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi addressed reporters on Tuesday, asking for countries in the Korean Peninsula and to remain calm.  He said that while a U.S. officials say a military strike remains on the table, he understands that the U.S. prefers diplomacy.

China remains North Korea’s most important ally in the region, and the U.S. is optimistic about China’s influence in the matter.

On a conference call Monday, acting assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Susan Thornton, told reporters,“We’ve gotten a lot of positive signals from the Chinese, but it takes time. You don’t know if these kinds of economic pressure will work until it works.”

China will reportedly increase economic sanctions to convince North Korea to cease development of missiles and nuclear weapons.

Although trucks made by a Chinese company were seen in a military parade in North Korean recently, China downplayed their inclusion. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said “normal business interactions” between China and North Korea remain, but they adhere to United Nations prohibitions of selling military hardware to the country.  In the parade, the Chinese vehicles were carrying ballistic missiles.

In his remarks Tuesday, Pence expressed the desire for a peaceful resolution.  “It is our belief by bringing together the family of nations with diplomatic and economic pressure we have a chance of achieving a freeze on the Korean Peninsula,” Pence said. “We will not rest and will not relent until we obtain the objective of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.”

H/T: USA Today

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