North Korea Threat Is ‘Critical, Imminent’, Japanese Government Warns U.S., South Korea

The threat of war with North Korea is “critical” and “imminent,” and South Korea and the Unites States must work with Japan to keep the reclusive regime in check, Reuters is reporting.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, however, took a more measured tone, continuing to angle for a diplomatic solution to Pyongyang’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Mattis, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-Moo all sat down for talks Monday in the Philippines, kicking off Mattis’ week-long trip to Asia. North Korea is at the top of Mattis’ agenda, and while he favors a diplomatic solution to the issue, he Japanese counterpart suggested that diplomacy may no longer be the most effective approach.

“[The] threat posed by North Korea has grown to the unprecedented, critical and imminent level. Therefore, we have to take calibrated and different responses to meet with that level of threat.”

Similarly, South Korea’s Song highlighted the danger of Pyongyang’s growing nuclear ambitions.

“North Korea’s provocative behavior is becoming worse and worse.”

The Escalating Threat of North Korean Nuclear Weapons

The secretive Asian regime is moving forward with its nuclear program despite international condemnation. Although the North is not known to have a missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload to the United States at this time, it is believed that they may have that capability by 2018.

Meanwhile, Seoul and Tokyo are both within easy range of the North’s short- and medium-range missiles; and indeed, several North Korean missiles have been launched towards Japan. As the New York Times reported in August, a missile flew over Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. Fortunately, no North Korean weapons have fallen in populated areas, instead falling harmlessly into the ocean.

Hopes For A Diplomatic Solution

Mattis, kicking off a week-long visit to the region, is in some ways paving the way for Donald Trump’s visit to the region, scheduled for next month. Trump will visit China, which Trump has repeatedly called upon to reign in its Asian neighbor.

And while Mattis has used measured rhetoric to address the situation, Trump and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong-Un, have been embroiled in an escalating war on words. Trump, for example, has referred to Kim as “Rocket Man,” seemingly in reference to the rockets that deliver his missiles. Kim, meanwhile, famously referred to Trump as a “dotard.”

[Featured Image by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images]