Japan Installs Missile Interceptors As North Korea's Guam Threat Looms

WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - US ally Japan has braced itself for a potential strike by North ...

Alliance News 13 August, 2017 | 8:49AM
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WASHINGTON (Alliance News) - US ally Japan has braced itself for a potential strike by North Korea near the US territory of Guam, with the Japanese military installing four surface-to-air missile interceptors in the country's west.

Inflammatory rhetoric between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear programme soared to new heights this week when North Korea announced plans to fire rockets near Guam, a western Pacific island that is home to a US military base and around 160,000 people.

Japan installed four PAC-3 missile interceptors on Saturday in four western prefectures, Kyodo News service reported, after Pyongyang warned that its missiles would cross over Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures before landing in waters off Guam.

Japan "will do its utmost to protect the lives and property of the Japanese people," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters while visiting his father's tomb in Yamaguchi prefecture.

France, another US ally, weighed in on the tensions on Saturday, with French President Emmanuel Macron calling on North Korea to avoid a further "escalation of tensions".

"The international community must act in a coordinated, steadfast and firm manner...so that North Korea returns to the path of dialogue," a statement from Macron's office said.

The White House said Trump and Macron pledged to work with allies and partners to enforce UN sanctions and achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump also reiterated to Macron the US' commitment to stop the North Korean "nuclear menace," according to a White House statement.

He told Macron the US is ready, along with its allies, "to apply the full range of diplomatic, economic, and military measures to achieve that goal."

China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported earlier that President Xi Jinping called on Trump to exercise restraint in his war of words with North Korea.

During the call Xi said concerned parties should "avoid remarks and actions that could escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula," according to Xinhua.

A White House statement said the two leaders had agreed that "North Korea must stop its provocative and escalatory behaviour" and that new UN sanctions on Pyongyang were "an important and necessary step" towards peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

China is one of North Korea's only allies, and Trump has repeatedly criticized Beijing for not exercising more pressure on Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear weapons programme, which appears to have accelerated in recent months.

After the call between Xi and Trump, however, the White House said "the relationship between the two presidents is an extremely close one" and that Trump was looking forward to seeing Xi in China later this year for a "historic" meeting.

The White House also said Trump had telephoned Guam Governor Eddie Calvo to reassure him that "US forces stand ready to ensure the safety and security of the people of Guam."

Speaking at at an informal news conference at his golf resort in New Jersey, Trump said Friday that if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attacked Guam, "he will truly regret it and he will regret it fast."

Trump has doubled down on his threats against North Korea since vowing "fire and fury" against the reclusive regime on Tuesday, sparking concern among foreign leaders.

By dpa correspondents

Copyright dpa

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