Japan hopes US defends region despite Korea drills’ suspension

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Tokyo, June 19 (IANS) Japan on Tuesday hoped that the US would remain committed towards defending the region despite suspending its annual military drills with South Korea to create a conducive atmosphere for talks on the denuclearisation of North Korea.

Government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga also said there would be no change in Japan-US alliance or US military presence in Japan following the cancellation of the Seoul and Washington exercises, Efe news reported.

The US and South Korea Tuesday confirmed a temporary cancellation of their Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG) manoeuvres, scheduled for August, as announced by US President Donald Trump following his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on June 12 in Singapore.

The suspension, Suga said, was a sign of commitment to the summit agreements, where Pyongyang had pledged to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for Washington ensuring the security of the regime.

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Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said on Tuesday that although it was unlikely North Korea would conduct missile or nuclear tests during the dialogue process, the regime is yet to take any concrete action towards denuclearization and thus Japan would continue to monitor its movements.

Onodera added that the decision taken by South Korea and the US to stop their summer drills would not affect the Pacific drills carried out by the US and Japan outside the Korean Peninsula.

–IANS

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