Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada on Saturday said she supported the steps Washington has taken in response to an uptick in missile and nuclear testing by the rogue state. She also said Tokyo wants to enhance its security partnership with Washington, Jerusalem Online reports.
"The United States is making clear both in words and actions that all options are on the table," Inada said at the Shangri-la Dialogue, a Singapore security conference. "I strongly support this position. The longstanding alliance between the US and Japan contributes to the peace and stability in the region."
The US over the spring has sent a massive show of force to the Korean Peninsula, including the nuclear-powered supercarriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan, which took part in the last few days in military exercises with the Japanese military in the Sea of Japan.
North Korea has called such exercises provocations and said the US' recent test of its missile interceptor systemwas a sign the US is preparing to "unleash a nuclear war against" Pyongyang.
Inada, on the other hand, said European countries should send naval forces to the region as well, to dissuade North Korea from launching any attacks on its neighbors. She also called for the thorough and sustainable implementation of all UN resolutions against North Korea's weapons testing programs.
On Friday, the UN Security Council announced that it would expand the sanctions it had imposed on North Korea, a resolution agreed upon by both the US and China, long one of North Korea's only allies. The resolution, which passed unanimously, freezes the assets of four entities, including banks, and more than a dozen North Korean and blocks them from international travel.
At the same Singapore conference, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis called North Korean a "clear and present danger" and an "urgent military threat." When asked if the US would attack the North preemptively and without warning South Korea, Mattis only said the US was "trying to exhaust all possible alternatives" to avert North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
"We want to stop this. We consider it urgent," he added, AP reports.
Mattis also said the US administration was pleased to see China working with them on ways to counter North Korea's continued weapons development, though he had harsh words for China regarding their activities in the South China Sea.