United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was in Tokyo to reassure the Japanese government amid new threats posed by North Korea. The N. Koreans have been testing medium-range missiles over the past few weeks, which have the capability to reach Japan. On Thursday, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera ordered Japan’s defense forces to shoot down any missile from N. Korea that could pose a threat to the region.
During Hagel’s visit, he promised the Japanese that the Unites States would be sending two destroyers to Japan by 2017, both of which are equipped with AEGIS anti-missile defense systems by 2017.
“A key focus for our talks today was the threat posed by North Korea,” Hagel said to reporters after his meeting with Itsunori and other members of the Japanese government. Hagel further went on to comment that the deployment of the two ships is in response to N. Korea’s aggressive actions that are in direct violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. Hagel also remarked that with the addition of the two new ships, that it would bring the Japanese fleet up to a total of seven.
In October, the Pentagon decided that it would be in the best interest of the United States to reinforce its position in Japan and have made plans to add a second missile defense site in Kyoto. Hagel said that with the addition of the two ships and the second missile defense system, the United States would be better prepared for an attack from the N. Koreans on Japan, or US soil.
While meeting with Japanese officials in Tokyo about the North Korean threat, Hagel also addressed the territorial dispute that the Japanese are having with China over a group of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea which has led to confrontations between the two sides Navy’s and Air Forces.
Recently, the Japanese have compared China to Russia in regards to the disputed islands and Crimea, saying that China is using intimidation tactics to redefine the norm in the East China Sea.
Hagel sought to reassure Japan by saying that actions in Asia that resemble the Russian annexation of Crimea will not be tolerated in either Eastern Europe or in a small group of islands in the East China Sea. He went on to say that it is not up to individual nations to redraw international borders.
The State Department has accused Chine of also intimidating the Philippines. Recently, the Chinese Coast Guard has been harassing Philippine resupply ships as they attempted to make a drip at a disputed atoll, the Second Thomas Shoal.
Hagel remarked that China is a “great power” and has a great responsibility and that Beijing needs to be responsible with their military and called recent actions by the Chinese hostile. Hagel also asserted that if China continues to be hostile and coerce their neighboring countries that it can lead to conflict and that all nations deserve respect. Hagel also said that he will be speaking to the Chinese when he leaves for Beijing on Monday.
By Nathaniel Pownell
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