Abe vows stronger ties with US, says Japan making comeback
By Matthew Pennington and Julie PaceWASHINGTON -- Japan's new prime minister says he will make his country a stronger U.S. ally and joined President Barack Obama in warning North Korea that its recent nuclear provocations would not be tolerated.
February 24, 2013, 12:03 am TWN
After meeting Obama in the Oval Office on Friday. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also sent a clear message to China: that while Japan does not want confrontation with Beijing, it won't tolerate challenges to its sovereignty over islands disputed by the two Asian powers.
Those regional tensions served as the backdrop for Friday's meetings, which came just two months after Abe began his second stint as Japan's prime minister following a convincing election victory.
Obama said he and Abe were united in their “determination to take strong actions” in response to North Korea's nuclear test this month, which followed a successful long-range rocket launch last month. That has propelled the isolated, authoritarian state closer to having a weapon of mass destruction that could threaten the U.S.
Abe said he and Obama have agreed to push for tougher sanctions by the U.N. Security Council and spelled out why Pyongyang's actions are cause for worry.
Speaking through a translator, the Japanese leader said this was why the United States was pressuring China to exert more influence over its North Korean ally. Abe said it was important for the entire international community to do the same.
Abe, a nationalist and advocate of Japanese relations with the United States, is the latest in a revolving door of Japanese prime ministers — the fifth since Obama took office. That's made it difficult to establish a personal rapport between Japanese and U.S. leaders, notwithstanding the enduring nature of the bilateral relationship. Japan hosts about 50,000 American forces and is a cornerstone of Washington's Asia policy.