JAPAN, November 4, 2022–The leaders of Japan, the United States and South Korea are planning to meet in mid-November in response to rising tensions over North Korea, government sources said Friday.
The leaders are expected to meet on the sidelines of ASEAN-related gatherings in Cambodia or the summit of the Group of 20 major economies in Indonesia. It would be their first trilateral meeting since they met in June in Spain.
The plan emerged as North Korea ramps up ballistic missile launches and concern grows that the country may conduct its seventh nuclear test.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol are slated to focus on ways to enhance defense cooperation to intensify pressure on North Korea, according to the sources.
The three leaders are expected to share their concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs, and discuss measures for its complete denuclearization.
Citing heightened tensions over the Korean Peninsula, one source said, “A Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit meeting is of the highest priority.”
Kishida will also request that Seoul and Washington assist Tokyo’s efforts to immediately resolve North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
On Thursday, the three countries condemned Pyongyang after it test-launched six missiles, including a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.
North Korea, which has been test-firing missiles at an unprecedented pace this year, launched three ballistic missiles, including an apparent ICBM believed to be a Hwasong-17, in the early morning, followed by three more at night. The five others were short-range ballistic missiles.
All missiles fell into the Sea of Japan. The launch of the ICBM apparently failed, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said, citing a defense source.
Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in Germany for the Group of Seven foreign ministerial meeting, met Thursday and strongly condemned the series of ballistic missile launches by North Korea, calling it an incontestable and serious challenge to the international community.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup in a meeting at the Pentagon the same day agreed to further strengthen the bilateral alliance’s capabilities to deter and respond to North Korean threats.
North Korea’s missile launches Thursday followed its test-firing of more than 20 missiles the previous day, amid growing concern that the country may conduct its seventh nuclear test and first since September 2017 in the run-up to the U.S. midterm elections on Tuesday.
Lee said through an interpreter that he and Austin affirmed that any nuclear attack by North Korea, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, would result in the “end of the Kim Jong Un regime by the overwhelming and decisive response of the alliance.”
The three countries on Sept. 30 held anti-submarine drills in international waters off the Sea of Japan for the first time in five years. The exercises also involved the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan.
Source: The Japan Times reported the original story.