All broadcasters reported on separate teleconferences this morning between Defense Minister Onodera and Defense Secretary Mattis and Foreign Minister Kono and Secretary of State Tillerson, noting that the participants agreed to ratchet up the pressure on North Korea based on the judgment that even greater bilateral coordination is necessary to cope with what the Japanese politicians called an “unprecedented serious threat” posed by the latest DPRK missile launch. Kono and Secretary Tillerson agreed to jointly pursue a new sanctions resolution at the UN Security Council so as to prevent the North from escalating provocations. Onodrea and Mattis reportedly confirmed missile defense cooperation. In reply to the Japanese minister’s request to make sure that a string of accidents involving 7th fleet warships will not create a “vacuum” in America’s security posture in the Pacific, the Pentagon chief promised not to allow such a situation to occur.
In a related development, Mainichi reported online that Ambassador Hagerty met with the press this morning and commented on last night’s teleconference between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe on North Korea by saying: “The President said the U.S. will support Japan completely. All options are on the table in dealing with a regime like North Korea…. The United States’ commitment to defending Japan by employing all means is ironclad.” As for discussions at the UN Security Council, the Ambassador said: “We hope that countries like China and Russia will step up the pressure on North Korea.” He added that Pyongyang’s current posturing shows that it has no intent to take a concerted approach with the international community.
Meanwhile, TV-Asahi claimed that during an emergency UN Security Council meeting held in New York on Tuesday, some members called for tougher sanctions on the DPRK, such as a ban on oil supplies and a prohibition against the import of North Korean textiles. China, Russia, and others reportedly expressed opposition saying that a diplomatic solution should be pursued. Fuji TV speculated that in their teleconference last night, President Trump and Prime Minister Abe apparently discussed the idea of the UN slapping a ban on the export of oil to North Korea. The network said, however, that Moscow and Beijing will probably not support it, quoting a GOJ source as saying: “The further the U.S. and Japan enhance mutual coordination toward North Korea, the more displeased China and Russia become.”