U.S. ‘committed’ to defend Japan from N. Korea threats

2013-04-14 22:05

TOKYO (AFP) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Japan on Sunday the United States would protect it from North Korea's threats, after securing a commitment from China to rein in the unpredictable regime.

After a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, where Patriot missiles have been deployed in anticipation of a missile launch by the North, Kerry pledged the U.S. would backstop its ally.

"The United States is fully committed to the defense of Japan," Kerry told a joint press conference with Fumio Kishida, Japan's Foreign Minister, in Tokyo.

Kerry's comments came after the Korean Central News Agency said Friday any attempt by Japan to shoot down a missile would result in war that would see Japan "consumed in nuclear flames.”

"Japan is always in the cross-hairs of our revolutionary army and if Japan makes a slightest move, the spark of war will touch Japan first," KCNA said in a commentary.

The Asian leg of Kerry's 10-day tour has seen him move through Seoul and Beijing, with Washington keen to press home the need for a united front against Pyongyang's erratic and bellicose behavior.

He found a sympathetic ear in Japan, where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will hold talks with Kerry on Monday, said Pyongyang had to realize it was harming itself by being "provocative.”

There are fears any launch could come on Monday, the anniversary of the birth of the North's late founder Kim Il-Sung. The presence of Kerry in the region, ensuring maximum publicity, may also appeal to the regime.


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