The United States has deployed the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to waters near the Korean Peninsula amid rising military tensions over North Korea. The Japanese government, which has asked the United States to provide advance consultation if it decides to launch military action against North Korea, has ramped up preparations for unexpected situations.
The Japanese government anticipates the possibility of a joint response with the United States should a contingency arise.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed on Wednesday that the region is becoming increasingly tense. “[U.S. President Donald Trump] has stated that all options are on the table. It’s a fact tensions are rising,” he said at the Prime Minister’s Office after receiving a written proposal calling for tougher sanctions on North Korea from the Liberal Democratic Party’s Eriko Yamatani, chief of the headquarters for the abduction issue.
“If an unexpected situation occurs, we’ll ask the United States to cooperate in rescuing the abduction victims,” Abe added.
The Trump administration is reviewing U.S. policy toward North Korea and has not ruled out military options, including a preemptive strike. Tensions in the region have risen sharply since the United States carried out a missile attack on Syria on April 6.
During a series of meetings between Japanese and U.S. officials, the Japanese side asked for advance consultation regarding any U.S. military action against North Korea. The U.S. side is said to have responded positively to the request. This is because Japan would need to take appropriate precautions given that, as an ally of Washington, it could be a target for retaliation should the U.S. military attack North Korea.
It is expected that a North Korean attack on Japan would involve ballistic missiles. The Japanese government has been bolstering defensive measures against ballistic missiles, including making permanent in August 2016 an order to the Self-Defense Forces to intercept and destroy incoming missiles.