Japan wants to hold a high-level three-way meeting with the United States and South Korea “as early as possible”, Tokyo said, as the allies closed ranks following the death of Kim Jong-Il.
South Korea put its military on alert after the North Korean leader’s death was announced on Monday and Japan, which has also been the object of Pyongyang’s aggression in the past, ramped up its surveillance.
Today Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda spoke for 15 minutes with US President Barack Obama, Noda’s spokesman said. South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak talked to Obama within hours of the announcement of Kim’s death.
In both the calls, according to the White House, Obama reiterated the US commitment to the region and said Washington was pledged to defend its allies.
There are around 50,000 US troops based in Japan, and 28,000 in South Korea.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura said Noda and Obama had discussed the resumption of stalled six-way talks on halting North Korea’s nuclear drive.
The six parties are the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States — but Fujimura said that Tokyo wants a more focussed conclave first.