TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the top uniformed American military officer pledged Friday to further strengthen the partnership between their countries' forces to deter further missile launches and other provocations by North Korea.
Abe and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed at the prime minister's official residence that the U.S. and Japan will continue taking concrete steps together to improve defense preparedness and capability, with an eye toward ballistic missile defense.
Abe expressed great appreciation for President Donald Trump's pledge that the U.S. will take all possible measures to protect allies. The prime minister said he hoped to further strengthen the bilateral alliance.
Dunford told Abe that "the nature of our bilateral relationship, particularly at the military level, is rock-solid." The two men agreed that it is critical to comply with new United Nations sanctions on North Korea and also shared concerns over Chinese maritime expansion.
Before meeting with Abe, Dunford spoke at the Ministry of Defense with his Japanese counterpart, Adm. Katsutoshi Kawano. They confirmed the importance of cooperation between the American military and the Japanese Self-Defense Forces in responding to Pyongyang's threats. Dunford told Kawano that the U.S. is committed to defending Japan, including through so-called extended deterrence.
Abe also met Friday with William Hagerty, the new American ambassador to Japan. On the North Korea problem, the prime minister said he hoped to work in close partnership with the envoy to strengthen the alliance between Japan and the U.S.
Hagerty called the bilateral bond "the greatest alliance on Earth" and told reporters after the meeting that Washington is "examining every option that we have to contain the regime" in Pyongyang.