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Since July 25 alone, North Korea has test-fired three new short-range ballistic missile systems, indicating that it has been busy boosting its subregional capabilities since leader Kim Jong Un met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Korean demilitarized zone in June. Yet Trump has openly condoned the North Korean tests, largely because the new missiles threaten not the United States but Japan and South Korea.

Indeed, Trump has clearly indicated that his administration will put up with North Korea’s subregionally confined nuclear arsenal as long as Kim does not pursue long-range capability that threatens America. Not surprisingly, this American stance unnerves Japan, which is central to U.S. forward deployment in Asia but feels increasingly vulnerable to growing Chinese and North Korean missile capabilities.

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