The Saturday editions of all national dailies wrote that Prime Minister Abe phoned President Trump on Friday night and they spoke for about an hour on such topics as the escalated tension on the Korean Peninsula and the recent series of mishaps involving U.S. military aircraft in Okinawa. According to a briefing by the GOJ afterward, the two leaders agreed to apply maximum pressure on the DPRK irrespective of the Kim regime’s recent “charm offensive.” They also agreed to enhance trilateral coordination with South Korea in dealing with the defiant regime’s nuclear and missile development. Abe reportedly explained to the President that when meeting with South Korean President Moon on the margins of the opening ceremony for the PyeongChang Olympics on Feb. 9, he will firmly convey Japan’s position on the bilateral comfort women pact.
With regard to the recent aviation incidents in Okinawa, the premier asked the President to take “thorough measures” to ensure flight safety. The President reportedly stated in reply that he will tell the appropriate officials to discuss how to respond to Japan’s request. Nikkei wrote that the two leaders mostly discussed the Korean Peninsula situation and incidents involving U.S. military aircraft in Okinawa. Yomiuri speculated that the prime minister initiated the phone call to confirm Japan’s coordinated approach with Washington ahead of his planned meeting with the ROK leader in PyeongChang so as to hold Seoul’s conciliatory moves toward its northern neighbor in check.