By Koichiro Ashikaga / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer NEW YORK — Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence agreed that North Korea’s firing of ballistic missiles on Thursday was extremely regrettable and pledged to closely cooperate on a response to the issue during their meeting at the White House in Washington on Friday.
They also agreed to take concerted action to resolve the issue of the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea.
In the about 40-minute meeting, Suga and Pence agreed on the importance of fully implementing U.N. Security Council sanctions resolutions on Pyongyang in response to the launching of ballistic missiles.
“The firing of ballistic missiles violates the Security Council resolutions,” Suga told reporters after the meeting.
Regarding the abduction issue, Suga told Pence that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is determined to meet directly with North Korean leader and chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea Kim Jong Un without preconditions, and again called for U.S. cooperation to resolve the issue. Pence said he intended to continue to support the Japanese government’s efforts.
Suga also renewed requests for U.S. cooperation regarding the realignment of U.S. bases in Japan, telling Pence, “It is extremely important to work to ease the burden on Okinawa Prefecture, where U.S. military land and facilities are concentrated.”
The two confirmed that both countries will steadily proceed with the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko area of Nago in the same prefecture.
They also addressed U.S.-China trade friction in the talks, with Suga telling Pence, “Japan hopes that both the United States and China will attempt to constructively solve the issue through dialogue.”
After the talks, Suga attended a symposium on the abduction issue at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Friday afternoon. The symposium was organized by the Japanese government and other entities.
In his keynote speech, Suga pledged to dedicate all his strength to solving the abduction issue and asked for the cooperation of the international community.
“We’ll break the shell of mutual distrust with North Korea and make a fresh start [on the issue],” he said.