Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with United States Presidenton Friday to confirm his country’s alliance with the US against North Korea’s nuclear program.
Prime minister of the world’s third largest economy, Abe had a clear message for Washington when he addressed hundreds of officials and reporters gathered at Center of Strategic Studies: "I am back and Japan is back."
"Japan is not and will never be a tier-two country. That is the core message I am here to make," he said. "I will get back a strong Japan, strong enough to do even more good for the benefit of the world."
Abe also met with Obama in the Oval Office before making a speech at the Washington think tank. He told Obama that Japan is ready to join hands with US to stop North Korea from carrying out more missile tests. Obama said he and Abe were united in their "determination to take strong actions" in response to North Korea's nuclear test earlier this month, which followed a successful long-range rocket launch last month.
Abe’s visit to the US comes just two months after his re-election. Abe noted that North Korea’s new long range missiles are now capable of striking the US and warned of Pyongyang’s claims that it has also created a small nuclear bomb that could be sent anywhere through its missile.
Supporting US’s stance to pressurize China to influence North Korea, Abe said that China, which is the world second largest economy, can also play an important role in this situation since it’s a long time ally of North Korea.
Japan and China have a history of bitter ties. However, more recently, after China tried to control the unoccupied islands in the resource-rich seas between them, Japan seems to be seeking Washington’s support to claim the disputed territory from the foe. The tensions between Japan and China have heightened concerns that a new fight could be sparked.
While Obama did not directly discuss the issue with Abe, Secretary of Statesaid in a separate statement that US appreciates Japan’s self control over the years and its efforts to avoid ‘significant confrontation.’
Despite Japan’s openness to hold talks with Chinese leaders, Abe said that the sovereignty of its islands cannot be compromised.
"We simply cannot tolerate any challenge now and in the future," Abe said. "No nation should make any miscalculation about firmness of our resolve. No one should ever doubt the robustness of the Japan-US alliance."