Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Monday that he hopes to lower tensions with the United States following President Trump’s tweets, but is concerned the situation could escalate.
When asked if he will cancel a White House meeting with President Trump on the North Korea issue, Abe told reporters, “The U.S. has been our ally for decades. I hope our alliance will continue.”
Monday’s comments from Abe came after Trump took to Twitter on Sunday, tweeting, “I have let North Korea know that the U.S. is a Great Nation and will do things to ensure they are happy and prospering. They have taken great steps toward denuclearization. Only the U.S. is able to provide security guarantees. Japan and South Korea are welcome to join the U.S. in this effort!”
The president added in an afternoon tweet, “Reminder that Japan and South Korea get 30% of their electricity from North Korea. Wouldn’t that be nice? Thank you!”
Abe added, “There is no damage seen on the Japanese side. The Japanese side is maintaining the utmost vigilance.”
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Sunday, “We hope the U.S. and North Korea maintain constructive dialogue and establish a regime. We hope to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula and to prevent the escalation of the situation there.”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to meet with members of the Japan Nippon Kaigi group at the prime minister’s official residence in Tokyo on Monday, according to the Kyodo News agency. The association supports cooperation between the U.S. and Japan.
The alliance between Japan and the U.S. has been a bedrock of stability in East Asia, and Trump’s comments on Twitter come after the meeting he had with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week.
Trump’s tweets have drawn a strong rebuke from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has called for “cool heads” after the latest remarks, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.
Japanese media quoted Abe as saying Monday, “We want to lower tensions and make sure the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains safe. We hope that North Korea will take concrete action towards denuclearization, and the U.S. will also firmly maintain sanctions against North Korea.”
Trump’s statements on the North Korea issue, however, came as North Korea moved to deploy its missile defense system to its coast in response to what the regime says are US sanctions on its shipping and trading industries.
The move followed U.S. sanctions late last week aimed at crippling the North Korean regime.
The new sanctions, announced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, prohibit Americans from entering North Korea, the officials said. Additionally, American citizens and North Korean officials are banned from interacting via email, phone, fax, mail, and the internet.
“The vast majority of American citizens — some 30,000 — have not been visited by the U.S. Embassy in Pyongyang since the Bush Administration,” the Trump administration said in a statement. “On a personal note, we condemn the abuse of diplomatic privileges for nuclear-armed North Korea, and we call on the North Korean regime to end its mistreatment of its own citizens and make preparations to lift, not worsen, the sanctions regime.”
President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s historic meeting was the first meeting between leaders of the two countries in history.
Earlier Sunday, Trump said on Twitter the U.S. is pleased with North Korea’s “progress” on denuclearization.