Trump reaffirms support for Japan after North Korea missile test

President Trump late Saturday reaffirmed the United States’ support for Japan after reports that North Korea had conducted a ballistic missile test, its first since Trump entered office.
“The United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent,” Trump said in brief remarks during a hastily called joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Florida.
Speaking through a translator, Abe called North Korea’s latest missile launch “absolutely intolerable” and called on the nation to “fully comply” with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The remarks, delivered late Saturday on the east coast but around lunchtime in Tokyo, came a day after Trump and Abe held a joint press conference at the White House before heading to Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., for the weekend.
{mosads}North Korea launched a ballistic missile, South Korea said, making good on leader Kim Jong Un’s January claim that the isolated nation was preparing for another weapons test.
“Our assessment is that it is part of a show of force in response to the new U.S. administration’s hardline position against the North,” the office of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement reported by Reuters.
The launch marked the first such test by North Korea since Trump took the Oath of Office on Jan. 20.
At a joint news conference on Friday, Trump said defending Japan against a nuclear North Korea was a “very, very high priority for the U.S.
“We will work together to promote our shared interests, of which we have many, in the region, including freedom from navigation and of navigation and defending against the North Korean missile and nuclear threat, both of which I consider a very, very high priority,” Trump said.
As a presidential candidate, Trump was criticized for suggesting that countries such as Japan and South Korea may be better off if they had nuclear weapons to defend against potential strikes.
“Would I rather have North Korea have them with Japan sitting there having them also? You may very well be better off if that’s the case. In other words, where Japan is defending itself against North Korea, which is a real problem,” he told The New York Times in March 2016. “You very well may have a better case right there.”
Trump has dismissed North Korea’s nuclear ambitions before, saying last month before taking office that the country’s plans of successfully building a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the U.S. “won’t happen!”
Updated: 11:18 p.m.
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