28 August, 2018
Japan say North Korea remains a serious threat to Japan's national security.
The statement comes from Japan's yearly defense policy paper. The document was released on Tuesday.
The Japanese government has announced plans to buy two American-made air defense radar tracking stations. Officials say the Aegis Ashore defense system would help strengthen the country's defenses against a missile attack.
The Japanese military notes that North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests and test-fired more than 40 ballistic missiles since 2016. Some of those missiles passed over Japanese air space.
The new report recognizes recent efforts by North Korea to reduce tensions with South Korea. These efforts led to the historic talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore on June 12. At the meeting, the two men signed a statement. It included a general promise by North Korea to remove nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.
Yet the Japanese military noted that, "There is no change in our basic recognition concerning the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons and missiles."
The report also expressed concerns about China's military expansion, including Chinese territorial claims in the East China Sea.
Yoichiro Sato is a professor of international strategic studies at Ritsumeikan Asia-Pacific University in Japan.
He notes there have been many diplomatic developments involving North Korea. But he said "Japan is not likely to alter its perception of threats from North Korea."
Speaking about China, Sato said Japan is concerned about parts of China's "Belt and Road" development plan. The plan provides money for building roads, rail transportation and other projects. The goal is to help connect Asia with Europe, and even Africa. Sato said some projects, such as ports, can also be used by China's growing navy -- an important concern for Japan.
Uneven diplomatic steps
The release of Japan's defense policy paper comes just days after President Trump cancelled U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's trip to North Korea.
On Twitter, Trump wrote that "we are not making sufficient progress" on the issue of removing nuclear weapons from the Korean Peninsula.
The South Korean government is seeking to improve relations with the North. The South expressed regret over the cancellation of Pompeo's visit. It added, however, that it was important for the allies to seek "substantial progress" on the nuclear issue.
North and South Korea are currently involved in a number of trust-building measures. These include reunions of family members separated by the Korean War and joint Korean sports teams at the Asian Games in Indonesia.
On Sunday, North Korea announced that a Japanese man, Tomoyuki Sugimoto, would be released from detention. Sugimoto was arrested in early August and held for several weeks. The North's official KCNA news agency said he was being released for humanitarian reasons.
News reports say Sugimoto was seized for taking videos of a military area near the port of Nampo. He was first placed on an airplane going to Beijing and returned to Japan on Tuesday.
I'm Mario Ritter.
Mario Ritter adapted this story for Learning English based on VOA and Reuters news reports. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
ballistic – adj. describing a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance
basic – adj. relating to the most important part of something
strategic – adj. related to a plan for meeting a military or political goal
alter – v. to change
perception – n. the way that someone is understood or thought about
sufficient – adj. having provided as much as is needed
substantial – adj. large in amount, size or number
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