On Wednesday, the leaders of the United States, South Korea, and Japan expressed deep concern about North Korea threat missile tests and pledged to work more closely together to address the threat posed by Pyongyang.
President Joe Biden of the United States, Secretary of State Antony Blinken of the United States, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin of the United States, President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan connect during a NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on June 29, 2022.
On the sidelines of the NATO summit in Madrid, US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol met and agreed that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes continue to pose serious threats to not only the Korean peninsula but also East Asia and the world.
North Korea has been undertaking missile tests at an astounding level this year, and some believe it is gearing up for yet another nuclear test.
The three leaders agreed to look into ways to strengthen “extended deterrence” against North Korea, which refers to the ability of the US military, notably its nuclear forces, to dissuade attacks on US allies, as well as security cooperation.
“The deterrence capabilities of the Japan-US and United States-Republic of Korea alliances must be upgraded as part of the critical effort to enhance the trilateral alliance between Japan, the United States, and the Republic of Korea,” Kishida said.
For the first time, South Korean and Japanese leaders are attending NATO’s annual summit as observers.
Japan-South Korean relations have long been strained by memories of Japan’s profession in the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945.
Under South Korea’s previous President Moon Jae-in, agreements worsened to their worst in years, with squabbles over territory and history, and the two countries cancelling an intelligence-sharing agreement. Yoon, on the other hand, has expressed a willingness to mend fences, and Kishida appears to be sympathetic.
Mr Biden met both leaders on his first presidential trip to Asia, which included stops in Seoul and Tokyo. The leaders of the United States, Japan, and South Korea had not met since September 2017, briefly after North Korea operated its sixth and most recent nuclear test.
“In my opinion, our trilateral cooperation is critical to achieving our shared goal, which offers full nuclear disarmament of the Korean Peninsula and an open and free Indo-Pacific,” Mr Biden said.
Mr Yoon, during his first trip abroad as president, stated that North Korea’s weapons advances make cooperation between the US, Japan, and South Korea even more important. Mr Yoon believes the three countries’ alliance will be an “important main pillar for world peace and stability.”
Earlier this month, the three countries’ defence ministers agreed to keep joint military exercises to improve response efforts to North Korean missile debuts. Mr Kishida said on Wednesday that if North Korea undertakes a 7th nuclear test, that American and South Korean officials believe is likely, the three countries will strengthen military coordination.
“Japan, the United States, and South Korea must collaborate closely,” Mr Kishida said.
The conflict between Japan and South Korea is a source of concern for the United States, which seeks a unifying front with its allies to counter North Korea and China’s growing power and influence in Asia.
North Korea’s barrage of missile tests this year—more than in 2020 and 2021 combined—has aided in the acceleration of greater military coordination among Washington, Tokyo, and Seoul.