TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday he is worried that North Korean security threats to Japan, including short- and medium-range missiles, may not be discussed at a U.S.-North Korea summit.
Abe told parliament he is worried President Donald Trump will focus on intercontinental ballistic missiles and forget shorter-range missiles that threaten Japan but not America.
“I’m worried that medium-range missiles and short-range missiles, the kind of missiles that are threats to Japan, may not be taken up during the talks, where the focus may be limited to ICBMs,” Abe told the upper house budget committee. “I’m also afraid that (Trump) may achieve a nuclear test ban, but end up accepting North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons.”
He said international society must get North Korea to completely abandon its nuclear programs in a verifiable and irreversible way and dismantle all types of missiles that can transport nuclear warheads.
Abe made the remarks after surprise talks earlier this week between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jingping. Meetings between Kim and the presidents of South Korea and the U.S. are also being planned, sidelining Abe.
Abe said he wants to remind Trump of his concerns during an expected trip to the U.S. next month. He also mentioned Japan’s desire to settle North Korea’s abduction of more than a dozen Japanese citizens during the 1970s and 1980s.
Some experts say Abe’s concern that the U.S. may allow North Korea to remain a nuclear power and possess some missiles that do not pose danger to America is a valid one.
“That kind of compromise would be a disaster for Japan,” said Hiro Aida, an international politics professor at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo. “For us it would be a serious nuclear power, but for the United States, it would be OK.”
Concerns have grown in Japan as North Korean missiles have flown closer to the country’s coasts in test launches. North Korea already has short- and medium-range missiles capable of hitting Japan. Last year it successfully tested ICBMs potentially able to reach major cities in the U.S.
Japan currently has ship-to-air missile interceptors, and if they fail, surface-to-air PAC-3s interceptors. It plans to deploy a land-based Aegis system and is considering pre-emptive strike capabilities.
Associated Press writer Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this report.
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