US Defence Secretary James Mattis told his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera today that America would help Japan enhance its ballistic missile defence capabilities following the biggest nuclear weapons test by North Korea, the Pentagon said. Mattis and Onodera condemned the North’s latest nuclear test as a “destabilising provocation” that threatens regional and global security, chief Pentagon spokesman Dana White said.
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,” White said.
The two defence officials reiterated their intent to continue working trilaterally with South Korea to strengthen deterrence and maintain peace and security in northeast Asia. North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test on Sunday in what it claimed was a detonation of a hydrogen bomb built for intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting the US mainland. Mattis separately also spoke to his South Korean counterpart Song Young-moo.
“Mattis assured minister Song that the US remains ironclad in its commitment to the defence of the ROK. He emphasised that any threat to the US, its territories, or its allies will be met with a massive, effective, and overwhelming military response,” White said.
“Mattis and Song discussed avenues for improving bilateral, trilateral, and regional defense cooperation in light of the threat posed by North Korea and to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia and the broader Asia-Pacific region,” she said.