Japan, US to join hands against Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuits

Tokyo, April 18 (IANS) Japan and the US on Monday agreed to enhance cooperation over possible responses to North Korea’s suspected ongoing missile and nuclear ambitions.

Talks between Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Akitaka Saiki and US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken were held in Tokyo amid rising concerns that Pyongyang might be preparing to conduct a fifth nuclear test, XInhua news agency reported.

“We need to continue to take effective measures against North Korea, always keeping in mind that the country may conduct further provocative acts,” Saiki said.

Saiki and Blinken, along with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung Nam, will hold a trilateral meeting in Seoul on Tuesday regarding the ongoing issue of regional defence and security as pertains to the actions of Pyongyang, Japanese foreign ministry said on Monday.

On April 15, Japan lambasted what it deemed to be an attempted launch of an intermediate-range “Musudan” missile ny North Korea, although said it was of no threat to national security as the launch had possibly failed.

Defence Minister Gen Nakatani said there were no inbound projectiles found headed towards Japan and as such there was no impact on the nation’s security, while Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida described the launch as “provocative” and urged restraint on Pyongyang’s part.

Following the sanctions by the UN Security Council last month for conducting a fourth nuclear test and launching a long-range rocket widely believed to be de facto test of banned ballistic missile technology, Pyongyang has launched a number of projectiles of late, some of which have been categorised as missiles.

“Japan and the US are facing the immediate challenge of Pyongyang and its ongoing provocative actions with its nuclear and missile programme,” Blinken told Kishida during the talks.

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