Japanese PM Shinzo Abe sees tougher US stance on North Korea

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe speaking during a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump, regarding the test-firing of a missile by North Korea, on Feb 11, 2017.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe speaking during a joint press conference with US President Donald Trump, regarding the test-firing of a missile by North Korea, on Feb 11, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - The US stance towards North Korea, which on Sunday test fired a ballistic missile, is likely to become tougher than before, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday (Feb 13).

"I believe that the stance of the United States towards North Korea will become much tougher, that is clear," Abe said on a NHK public broadcasting news programme, after returning from meetings with US President Donald Trump in the United States.

Trump said the US remained committed to Japan's security and that it was behind Japan "100 per cent" in the aftermath of the missile launch, which occurred as Abe was wrapping up his visit.

Abe said he felt the administration of the former president, Barack Obama, had been quite strategic but that policy would be rethought under Trump.

"I think there will be a number of different strategies on the table," he added, without giving details, although he said dealing with North Korea had been a major theme of his talks with Trump.

Abe also said that he hoped US Vice-President Mike Pence, who with Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso will lead a US-Japan economic dialogue, will visit Japan "as soon as possible".

Abe gave few details of the dialogue but did say he thought numerical targets would not be a productive approach and the dialogue would cover macro-economic policies, various projects and trade rules.