Taking a page from former U.S. leader Richard Nixon, current President Donald Trump has warned China that it must do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions or face "a big problem" with "warrior nation" Japan.

"Japan is a warrior nation, and I tell China and I tell everyone else that listens, I mean, you're gonna have yourself a big problem with Japan pretty soon if you allow this to continue with North Korea," Trump said during an interview on the Fox News program "The Ingraham Angle" on Thursday, a day before departing on his first Asia tour as president.

It was unclear what the U.S. leader was referring to, in terms of a "big problem," but Trump had suggested during his successful campaign for president that he would be open to Japan acquiring its own nuclear weapons.