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Japan, U.S. to closely work with Seoul after N. Korea missile launch

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to closely collaborate with each other and South Korea following North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch early Wednesday, a senior Japanese government official said.


Abe and Trump also agreed during telephone talks to put more pressure on Pyongyang to force it to abandon its nuclear and missile programs, according to the senior official.


The two leaders meanwhile reaffirmed the importance of China playing more of a role in reining in North Korea, the official added. China accounts for about 90 percent of the North’s trade and is a major oil supplier to the country.


They shared the view that “the North Korean regime’s provocative actions are undermining its security and further isolating it from the international community,” according to the White House.


Speaking to reporters before the phone dialogue, Abe called for more sanctions to be imposed on Pyongyang, whose missile apparently fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.


“Japan will never yield to any provocative act (by North Korea) and will raise pressure on it to the maximum level,” Abe said at his office in Tokyo.


The government was able to “completely” track the flight of the missile, which came down around 250 kilometers west of Aomori Prefecture on the northern tip of Japan’s main island of Honshu, Abe said.


Foreign Minister Taro Kono said Japan, which has no diplomatic ties with North Korea, lodged a protest in “the strongest terms” through its embassy in Beijing and urged North Korea to change its policies.


Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile could have been the longest-range missile test-fired by North Korea. It was launched on a lofted trajectory, reached an altitude of more than 4,000 kilometers and flew for some 50 minutes, he said.


No damage to aircraft and vessels operating around the point where the missile is believed to have dropped has been reported, the defense chief added.


The government did not give an order to intercept the missile as it judged there was no possibility that it would land within Japan’s territory or territorial waters, he said.


Onodera suggested the missile may have split into multiple parts and said it could be a multi-layer type, correcting his earlier remark that it could have been a multiple-warhead type.


The government convened a National Security Council meeting involving relevant ministers in the wake of the missile launch.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference in the early morning that the participants of the NSC meeting confirmed the need to strengthen cooperation with the international community and take resolute actions against the North.

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