Tue, Nov 07, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Trump offers to arm Tokyo against N Korean aggression


US President Donald Trump, center left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center right, feed koi at the Akasaka Place in Tokyo yesterday.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump yesterday refused to rule out eventual military action against North Korea and declared that the US “will not stand” for Pyongyang menacing the US or its Asian allies.

In his first stop of an extended trip in Asia, Trump stood with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a news conference in Tokyo and suggested the US would arm Japan, much as it has done with allies in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia.

He did not deny reports that he has expressed frustration that Japan did not shoot down a ballistic missile that North Korea recently fired over its territory.

“He will shoot ’em out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States,” Trump said of Abe. “He will easily shoot them out of the sky.”

Trump defended his fiery language, declaring Pyongyang “a threat to the civilized world.”

“Some people say my rhetoric is very strong, but look what has happened with very weak rhetoric in the last 25 years,” Trump said.

Abe, who has taken a more hawkish view on North Korea than some of his predecessors, agreed with Trump’s assessment that “all options are on the table” when dealing with Kim Jong-un and announced new sanctions against several dozen North Koreans.

The two men earlier in the day put a face on the threat posed by the North, meeting with anguished families of Japanese citizens snatched by Pyongyang’s agents.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump stood with nearly two dozen relatives, some of whom held photographs of the missing.

Trump pledged to work to return the missing to their families, saying “it’s a very, very sad number of stories that we’ve heard.”

North Korea has acknowledged apprehending 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, but says they all died or have been released.

In Japan, the government insists many more were taken — and that some might still be alive.

Trump suggested that it would be “a tremendous signal” if North Korea returned the captives.

Although Trump and Abe repeatedly touted their friendship, looming disagreements on trade could strain the friendship. Trump complained that Japan had been “winning” for decades and rebuked the current relationship, saying the trade deals were “not fair and not open.”

Japan orchestrated a lavish formal welcome yesterday for the Trumps, complete with military honor guard and an audience with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace.

As part of the pageantry, Trump and Abe took part in a traditional feeding of koi in a pond at the Akasaka Palace, a state guesthouse.

At first, they spooned out small amounts of feed into the pond. Abe then lightly tossed the remainder of his box into the pond, while Trump more theatrically dumped the rest of his box to the fish as Abe laughed.

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