The U.S.-Japan alliance is more important than ever as both nations work to curb North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats, an annual foreign policy report released Tuesday says.
North Korea’s buildup of nuclear arms and missile capabilities is “a grave and imminent threat” to the peace and stability of Japan and the international community and closer coordination with the United States and South Korea is needed to deal with the threat, according to the Diplomatic Bluebook 2018.
Reflecting a recent thaw, the report said momentum has been building for improved Japan-China ties, noting the need for the world’s third- and second-largest economies to work in conjunction to see off global challenges.
The diplomatic policy document also described the strengthening U.S.-Japan alliance under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, who took office in January 2017.
It is customary for the Foreign Ministry to release an annual foreign policy report every April. But the latest report was pushed back to May to include the most recent summit between Abe and Trump in mid-April.
Ahead of the historic U.S.-North Korea summit scheduled for June 12, Japan and the United States are calling for Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arms and missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.
Determined to resolve the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s, Abe has asked Trump to raise the issue when he meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“Japan will make utmost efforts to achieve an early resolution of the abduction issue by closely coordinating and cooperating with the United States and other countries concerned,” the report said, noting that normalization of ties between Japan and North Korea will not come unless the issue is resolved.
North Korea’s state-run media, however, has blasted Japan for putting undue focus on the abduction issue. Pyongyang considers it settled and accuses Tokyo of thwarting “the trend of peace on the Korean Peninsula at any cost.”
The ministry’s report came a week after Japan hosted a trilateral summit with China and South Korea, its neighbors with which it has had diplomatic friction over shared wartime history and territorial disputes.
Chinese ships have repeatedly entered Japanese waters around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. Japan controls the uninhabited islets but China also claims them.
The issue of the “comfort women,” females who were forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, has proved a major roadblock hampering the improvement of bilateral ties between Japan and South Korea.
The report stressed the need to make good on a bilateral accord to “finally and irreversibly” settle the issue.