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Taro Kono and commander of U.S. forces in Japan agree to boost cooperation amid growing North Korean missile threat

Kyodo

Defense Minister Taro Kono agreed with the commander of U.S. forces in Japan on Monday to beef up bilateral cooperation in dealing with North Korea’s missile development.

Kono and Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider exchanged views following North Korea’s test-firing on Wednesday of what Pyongyang calls a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile, Kono said. The two met for the first time since Kono assumed his post in a Cabinet reshuffle last month.

Kono also said he appreciated Schneider’s efforts to realize the revision in July of the Guidelines Regarding Off-Base U.S. Military Aircraft Accidents, which allowed early entry by Japanese police, fire and rescue service personnel to crash sites.

Before the revision, U.S. forces had often kept Japanese authorities away from accident sites in the early stages of investigation. Such cases included the 2004 crash of a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter into a university campus in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture.

Since taking office, Kono has held talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper over the phone and also met with some U.S. military leaders including Lt. Gen. Stacy Clardy, commander of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force and head of U.S. forces in Okinawa.

Schneider, who doubles as commander of 5th Air Force headquartered at the Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo, took up his position in February.

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