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Japan, U.S., S. Korea defense chiefs plan to hold video conference

TOKYO — The Japanese, U.S. and South Korean defense chiefs plan to hold a videoconference at an early date, the Japanese government said Wednesday after senior officials of the three countries affirmed the importance of close cooperation in dealing with North Korea.


Akihiro Tsuchimichi, Japanese director general for defense policy, David Helvey, U.S. acting assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs, and Chung Suk Hwan, South Korean deputy minister for national defense policy, agreed in a teleconference Wednesday to arrange ministerial talks in a virtual format given the coronavirus pandemic.


With Pyongyang continuing to test-fire missiles as the world struggles to contain the virus, the officials affirmed the need to work together to deal with the North Korean nuclear and missile threats.


Earlier this month, North Korean troops also fired multiple shots at a South Korean guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone, according to the South’s military.


Until he made a public appearance for the first time in 20 days in early May, the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was also the subject of speculation recently following a CNN report that he was in “grave danger” after undergoing surgery.


During the officials’ talks, Japan raised the recent situation in the East China Sea. Tokyo briefed on a spate of recent intrusions into Japanese territorial waters by Chinese government ships near the Japan-controlled, China-claimed Senkaku Islands, according to a Japanese government official.


The annual working-level meeting was initially scheduled to be held in Tokyo, but was switched to a teleconference following the virus outbreak.

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