Shinzo Abe’s image as a strong leader has bolstered his ratings amid rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear arms and missile programmes and overshadowed opposition criticism of the premier for suspected cronyism scandals that had eroded his support.
Emperor Akihito, accompanied by his wife, Empress Michiko, paid respects at Koma Shrine in the town of Hidaka north of Tokyo, as part of a two-day private study trip to the region, said palace officials.
North Korea missile test: Pyongyang’s missile test drew sharp condemnation from across the world, with South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordering military to conduct a live-fire ballistic missile drill in response to the launch.
“We can never tolerate that North Korea trampled on the international community’s strong, united resolve toward peace that has been shown in UN resolutions and went ahead again with this outrageous act,” Abe told reporters.
North Korea missile launch: Friday’s missile test was met with the usual outrage. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis both called the launch a reckless act.
PM Abe arrived this week in his counterpart Modi’s home state, skipping the tradition of visiting the capital of New Delhi, for the tenth meeting between two leaders since Modi came to power in 2014.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe visit: Both PM Modi and his Japanese counterpart will also address a public meeting after the ground-breaking ceremony for the bullet train project between Ahmedabad and Mumbai on Thursday.
During a phone call, Mattis said the US’ commitment to defend Japan, including its extended deterrence commitment, remains ironclad. “Mattis underscored the US would work with Japan to enhance its ballistic missile defence capabilities,” Pentagon spokesman Dana White said.
“Perhaps it’s time for our three principles to become two,” a senior defence policy maker told Reuters, suggesting nuclear weapons be allowed into Japan.
“The two leaders condemned North Korea’s continued destabilizing and provocative actions, confirmed the two countries’ ironclad mutual defense commitments, and pledged to continue close cooperation,” the statement said.
“After examining the data we concluded that it was a nuclear tests,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono said at a briefing broadcast by public broadcaster NHK following a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council.
In 2015, Shinzo Abe’s government allowed Japan to fight for its allies when they come under enemy attack, a condition known as collective self-defense, by re-interpreting part of the constitution and railroading a new security legislation that sparked massive protests.
A five-year government defence plan that runs until end of March 2019 stipulates that annual defence budget increases, minus spending to maintain U.S. military bases, should be limited to 0.8 percent. Japan has largely stuck to that rate of increase.
The Japanese Defence Ministry was mulling increasing the number of soldiers in its cyber defence unit from the current 110 to 1,000, and a new working group to study cyber warfare techniques will also be established, according to media reports last month.
Doklam standoff: Japan has also conveyed that they understand that the area is disputed between China and Bhutan and that both countries recognize the existence of a dispute. Japan has also conveyed that India is “involved” in this incident “based on bilateral agreements” with Bhutan.